cover image Raising Sweetness [With CD]

Raising Sweetness [With CD]

Diane Stanley. Live Oak Media (NY), $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23225-1

In the amiable Saving Sweetness, Stanley and Karas introduced a clumsy and golden-hearted sheriff who adopts little Sweetness and her seven fellow orphans. In this equally charming sequel, the unmarried sheriff labors to be a good parent. ""Every dang day I sweep their little beds and hang their clothes out on the line to get clean!"" he boasts, unaware that his cleaning methods are dubious at best. The orphans urge him to find a mate, and one day a letter arrives, foreshadowing better times. But the happy ending is postponed, for the sheriff cannot read. It's up to Sweetness to learn her ABCs in a hurry. As readers will suspect, the message comes from the sheriff's ""long lost love, Lucy Locket,"" a New York City teacher who must be lured back to rural Possum Trot to become a happily married working mother of eight. Karas contributes witty pencil portraits of angelic Lucy, the ingenuous sheriff and keen-minded Sweetness. His multimedia collages, which include torn handmade paper, scraps of wallpaper and pasty washes of rosy-hued paint, convey homespun warmth. Stanley, an expert at folksy first-person dialogue, sprinkles the sheriff's amusing narration with Texas vernacular (e.g., he claims to have loved Lucy ""since God made dirt""). This comic tale offers almost enough humor to make up for Lucy's getting the lion's share of the chores. If only Part Three could find the sheriff a housecleaning whiz and a decent chef to boot. Ages 5-up. (Mar.)