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THE SUGAR-GUM TREE by Patricia Wrightson


by Patricia Wrightson

Pub Date: April 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0141306912
Publisher: Viking

Though they're best friends, Sarah Bell and Penny May often quarrel. On the day in question, a combination of wonderfully believable accidents, insults, and hurt feelings leaves Penny up the tree in Sarah's yard, refusing to come down until Sarah apologizes. Some gentle escalation ensues: the Mums intervene, each scolding her own child but sympathetic to the other; the Dads get involved, and firemen are called—all to no avail. It's Sarah who gets Penny down at last, as the two make a new alliance and announce a sleepover. "I thought you were having a fight," says Mrs. Bell, to which Sarah replies, "It was our fight." The parents' response is bemused but benevolent (followed by some firm rules for next time); parting next morning, the girls are ready (well, almost) to joke about yesterday's tiff. In b&w illustrations (on almost every page) with a lively style reminiscent of Quentin Blake's, Cox catches the nuances in every stance and expression. A funny, easily read story that's also generous, true to life, and (like Wrightson's novels for older children) beautifully written. Pair this one with Steig's Spinky Sulks (1988). (Fiction/Young reader. 7-10)