SORRY by Jean Van Leeuwen

SORRY

by & illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 8
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Feuding over a trifle earns two brothers the lifelong sorrow of a severed relationship, a pathetic circumstance that Van Leeuwen manages to invest with a degree of censorious humor. Ebenezer and Obadiah live in the north country, where the winters are long and their farm is rocky. But they toil together, close as siblings can be, each assuming appropriate tasks: one cooks, the other milks the cow, one plays the fiddle, the other the mouth organ. Then one day Obadiah criticizes Ebenezer’s oatmeal. “Lumps,” he says. Ebenezer objects, whether because of “too much winter or too much pride” is not clear—but the bowl of oatmeal he dumps on Obadiah’s head is plain as day. Obadiah objects, and stops talking to Ebenezer. Same goes for Ebenezer. They go so far as to cut their home in half and tow their sides to opposing hilltops. And so it goes, for generation after generation, despite the many moments they dearly wish they could commune with one another—when they get married and when they have children and grandchildren. Alas, neither can ever summon the simple word that would do the trick. That is left to the great-grandchildren, one of whom—on Ebenezer’s side—wrongly gets accused of stealing apples by one from Obadiah’s side. Near to blows, Nathaniel thinks to utter “Sorry,” and a familial relationship is reborn. Van Leeuwen’s story has enough melancholy to make her point clear, while Sneed’s demonstrative, hammy watercolors maintain a steady pulse of wry comedy. His hillbillies are all bulgy noses and gawky limbs; the household details, countryside, and livestock as picturesque as they are parody. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-8037-2261-3
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2001




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