Manning’s Millie returns with fierceness in check until an unwelcome visitor finds her chasing him “like bad luck.”
Millie, who once had fierceness-management issues, has brought them under control. She has been (in the words of her mother) a “sugar-pie,” which entitles her to a backyard “sleep out” with two friends and her dog. Millie plans the sleep out down to a T—which, even for a sugar-pie, is a recipe for trouble—and when her comrades and the dog don’t truck to her plans, she struggles to keep “the top on tight / to her inner fierce.” When a growl and then a snarl send all but Millie diving for cover, it’s time for the inner to seek outer expression. Even though it is only Vincent, the neighbor’s pug, snarfing some discarded gummy worms, all are glad when their fears are laid to rest. Manning’s understated free-verse text employs repetition and gently applied simile to get to the heart of Millie’s emotions. Her artwork is equally expressive, down to each ferociously messy dab of watercolor; it is also, as when Millie’s right eye begins to twitch after all the s’mores but one have vanished, touched by the spidery derangement of Ralph Steadman.
Readers already know what Millie learns: To everything there is a time and purpose, including fierceness; they will welcome this validation. (Picture book. 4-8)