Hannah and Sugar

Kate Berube. Abrams, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4197-1890-8
Berube, creator of the children’s zine Tater Totter, makes a marvelous picture book debut with an achingly authentic story of fear conquered. Employing naive, emotionally astute watercolors and a gentle and impressively concise voice, Berube introduces Hannah and her unlikely bête noire: a well-behaved dog named Sugar who belongs to her friend Violet P. “Every day after school, Mrs. P. asked Hannah if she wanted to pet Sugar,” writes Berube. While Hannah is always polite in her demurrals, she’s desperately afraid of Sugar; Berube expresses the sum of her heroine’s phobia in a gutsy spread that shows the amiable Sugar at one margin, a dubious Hannah at the other, and an expanse of white space between that seems to dismiss any possibility of détente, let alone friendship. When Sugar goes missing, Hannah discovers that she possesses deep reserves of empathy and courage, and, with a simple but essential gesture, she saves the day. Readers will be cheering for both Hannah and Sugar—and for the wonderful new talent that produced them. Ages 5–7. Agent: Lori Kilkelly, Rodeen Literary Management. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/04/2016
Release date: 03/08/2016
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