A SPECIAL TRADE by Sally Wittman


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Here's a neat turn of the tables to help a child, forever betwixt and between, feel good about being dependent and good about growing up. When Nelly is very small, old Bartholomew her neighbor takes her for a daily walk in her stroller to Mrs. Pringle's vegetable garden down the block, being careful to warn her of a bumpy driveway (""And she'd shout 'BUMP!' as she rode over it""), petting nice dogs and shooing away nasty ones, pushing her right through (""Get ready, get set, CHAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRGE"") Mrs. Pringle's sprinkler. With the passing years, they become mutually-supportive pals--until Bartholomew is confined to a wheelchair and Nelly, still small enough to be a small child, takes him on a daily walk down the block, alerting him to the bump (""And Bartholomew would wave his hat like a cowboy as he rode over it""), shooing away mean dogs, and even, one day, pushing him (""CHAAARRRR. . ."") through the sprinkler. The reversal is delicately handled (the text is not a copy-cat repeat) and the deft, sparingly-colored little drawings, oftimes reminiscent of the sportive Sendak figures in I'll Be You and You Be Me (with only a pinch of Irene Haas whimsy), keep sentimentality and coyness at bay.

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1978
Publisher: Harper & Row