cover image All the Greys on Greene Street

All the Greys on Greene Street

Laura Tucker, illus. by Kelly Murphy. Viking, $16.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-451-47953-2

It’s spring 1981, and Ollie, 12, is trying her best to keep her sculptor mother’s latest depressive episode a secret. Her mom hasn’t gotten out of bed since a week after Ollie’s art restorer father fled mysteriously to France in the middle of the night, leaving behind a cryptic note for Ollie alone. The cautious girl declines to share either piece of information with the sympathetic grown-ups in her life, including her father’s business partner, the dependable Apollo, who teaches her about mixing pigments—and with whom her father quarreled about an enigmatic wooden statue before he left. Ollie herself is an observant and talented sketch artist, and her creative sensibility shines through in Murphy’s spot illustrations and the lovely first-person narrative (a building is said to be “wearing its own fire escape like the hard jewelry on the girls outside the bars on St. Mark’s Place”). Tucker skillfully balances themes of mental illness, friendship, and creativity under tough circumstances in her memorable debut. The vibrant, eccentric characters are authentic, the early-1980s SoHo setting is clearly wrought (rich with descriptive details such as fad diets and artist-in-residence lofts), and the Konigsburg-tinged art mystery satisfies. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Faye Bender, the Book Group. (June)