cover image Miss Viola and Uncle Ed Lee

Miss Viola and Uncle Ed Lee

Alice Faye Duncan. Atheneum Books, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80476-2

In this sweet-natured picture book, a boy plays go-between, bringing together his two older neighbors, ""neat as a pin"" Miss Viola and ""junky as a pack rat"" Uncle Ed Lee. Miss Viola's grass is always cut, her shrubs trimmed and her picket fence gleaming white; Uncle Ed Lee has a yard with tall grass (and bits of trash in it), a leaning mailbox and a rusty wire fence. When Uncle Ed Lee decides he'd like to be friends with his tidy neighbor, he enlists young Bradley to help him out. Soon Uncle Ed Lee spruces up his house, his yard--and himself--so that Miss Viola will honor him with a visit (""He picked up his trash.../ and mowed his grass.../ until he ran out of gas""). The ""twinkle in her eye"" and their meeting for a card game and lemonade suggest a friendship that may bloom into romance. Duncan's (Willie Jerome) feel-good text will have readers rooting for thoughtful Bradley in his efforts to unite the unlikely pair. Stock's (Gus and Grandpa) soft and wispy watercolors, set in a quiet African-American neighborhood, deliver all the good cheer the story demands. Ages 5-8. (Jan.)