THE GAZEBO

Ethel Pochocki, Author, Mary Beth Owens, Illustrator , illus. by Mary Beth Owens. Down East $15.95 (30p) ISBN 978-0-89272-516-8

The team behind Rosebud and Red Flannel here creates a paean to gazebos. Pochocki works assiduously to share her love for the subject. For those already in the choir, the preaching probably hits a bullseye. For the unconverted, though, the serpentine tale may grow tedious. Mary Rose (short for Mary Rosalinda Francesca Evangeline Mercedes Yvonne), a wealthy city girl, becomes fascinated with the fancy gazebos she reads about in a 19th-century gardening book. Early on, readers are told that the girl's life "lacked for nothing, yet there were things she wanted and could not have—a backyard, for one, with a garden, woods." Several pages later, however, readers learn that the gardening book is not the girl's first exposure to gardens or woods: each summer, "Mary Rose and her parents went to live in their cottage on an island up north, in Maine." Mary Rose grows up to be an ambassador, yet after all the stylish manor houses she visits (each with "its own gazebo to match"), she retires in Maine, and constructs (over many pages) a simple gazebo made from eight intertwining apple trees. Taking her cue from the 1920s or '30s setting, Owens (Prize in the Snow) steeps her watercolors in nostalgia—she frames the pastel-toned vignettes with flourishes and detailed borders. While technically solid, the small-scale, faded illustrations feel a bit precious, a pale imitation of the wonder of real gardens and gazebos. Ages 8-11. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/12/2002
Release date: 01/01/2002
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