This daylong idyll depicts the sweetest of sibling relationships, with big sister Stella indulging and guiding little brother Sam in child-sized flights of fancy.
When Sam hauls a wagon loaded with sticks and scrap lumber onto the page and announces he’s building a doghouse for Fred, she doesn’t rain on his parade, she just settles down to read while he gets to work. “Does your book tell you how to build a doghouse?” he asks after a bit. “No,” she says. “But I can help you.” Throughout a day that includes a picnic by the pond, kite flying, tending the garden and gazing at the clouds, Stella reads and talks to Sam about her books. But despite Stella’s invitations, he’s not interested in being read to till nighttime, when “Fred can’t sleep” and needs a story. Stella is happy to oblige. Her low-pressure approach to sharing her evident love of books is wisely intuitive, allowing Sam the space to come to it on his own. Gay’s watercolor, pencil, pastel and collage illustrations fill each scene with a riot of details for children to pore over again and again. On one page, a bunny reads Stella’s book while she helps Sam with the doghouse; on another, two birds and a caterpillar share space on a makeshift clothesline with Stella’s wet socks. Stella’s wild, red mop of curls seems to have enough energy to power several states.
A perfect summer’s day bound in 32 pages. (Picture book. 3-5)