FISH FRY by Susan Saunders


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East Texas, ca. 1912--rendered in precisely-delineated, Carl-Larsson-like watercolors and becomingly celebrated in an anecdotal account of Edith-and-family (and friends) on the day of the town fish fry. Even if nothing did happen, youngsters would still enjoy hearing about Edith dressing ""as fast as she could, in drawers with tatting across the back, cotton stockings, a shimmy, a white dress, and a jumper""; they would still enjoy seeing her running down the stairs--while doors stand invitingly open or tantalizingly closed, and her mother works away in the kitchen beyond. Daddy, we learn, ""had left the house when it was still dark. 'I have to get to the river before the fish wake up,' he had said."" And so it goes: a combination of storytelling finesse; expansive, suggestively detailed illustrations; and sly snatches of dialogue. Edith and neighbor-boy Eugene conduct a running battle-of-wits; Edith and best-friend Katie find every opportunity to play--now running alongside the wagon, now taking on the boys in hopscotch and tag. On the ground under the pines, there are luscious eats for the picnickers (an inexhaustible panorama of character-types, activities, poses, and plain stuff); for a dramatic peak, there's ""the biggest alligator anyone had seen that far up the river."" This is old-time life with a little ginger and no treacle; also, a book to occupy preschoolers when there's no one around to read-aloud--and to interest young readers of Edith and Eugene and Katie's age.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Viking