Right along with a nosy young neighbor, children get an eyeful of a family’s sustainable lifestyle.
Regarding the responses of his little sister’s friend (see title) with amusement, the big-brother narrator models green living. He helps his parents plant a backyard garden and carry fresh produce from a farmers’ market rather than going to the grocery store. The family cuts the lawn with a hand mower, they hang up the wash rather than chucking it into a drier, they heat the family room with a wood stove and cool it with a ceiling fan rather than using more energy-intensive appliances. Looking skeptical but plainly beguiled, red-haired Sheila takes it all in, just as readers will. Smalley never delivers an explicit message here, and by showing rather than telling, she makes these practices look all the more appealing and doable—idealized though they are in Emery’s painted views of lush gardens, cozy indoor scenes and hardworking but ever-smiling adults and children.A good-humored guide to environmentally responsible behavior, all the more convincing (and refreshing) for being indirect. (Picture book. 6-8)