ALTOGETHER, ONE AT A TIME
Gail E. Haley
Four short stories, each illustrated by a different artist and each containing an unobtrusive but centrally important moral. In "Inviting Jason" Stanley, a typically conformist ten-year-old, fears that his birthday party will be ruined when his mother makes him invite the dud whose salient trait appears to be his well-known dyslexia. When Dick, the popular boy Stanley wants to impress, takes up with Jason largely because of the novelty of his spelling and drawing, Stanley is chagrined anew. In "The Night of the Leonids" Lewis and his grandmother go to Central Park for a star shower, only to find that a cloudy sky has spoiled the show. When he complains that he won't have another such chance for thirty-three years, Lewis is reminded of what that much time means to his sixty-three-year-old grandmother. Clara in "Camp Fat" is encouraged by a sympathetic "night counsellor," but discovers upon leaving that Miss Natasha has been dead for years. "Momma at the Pearly Gates" is told by a black girl about her mother's fourth-grade encounter with racial prejudice in the person of one Roseann Dolores Sansevino, whom Momma wins over after an amusing series of instills and challenges. Neither as lively nor as imaginative as Mrs. Konigsburg's full-length fiction, the stories share her offhand humor and her perceptive empathy with a child's point of view. The theme or lesson of each story emerges naturally from the characters and events and adds in its turn an ironic note to the plot's conclusion.