THE FRIEND by Sarah Stewart


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 5 - 8
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A poor little rich girl, ignored by her busy parents, finds companionship with the family’s live-in African-American housekeeper. Small’s loose ink-and-watercolor illustrations depict a bespectacled, knobby-kneed little Belle and a doughy, mountainous Bea, while rhyming couplets take the pair through the chores of the week, every day ending with a walk from the mansion to the beach: “Belle and Bea, hand in hand, to the sea.” The illustrations far surpass the lockstep text, investing gentle humor in the carrying-out of the chores and allowing wordless double-page spreads of Belle and Bea at the sea to speak volumes about the relationship. The illustrations also hint that Bea is as lonely as Belle: a scene of the two in Bea’s room places two photographs of Bea’s own family on a table—where are they? Although a postscript and the dedication indicate that the story is at least partially autobiographical, there is something in this celebration of the relationship between black hired help and white employer’s child that might strike modern readers as archaic, if not downright abominable. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11th, 2004
ISBN: 0-374-32463-8
Page count: 48pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2004


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