Mary Steele, Author Peachtree Publishers $6.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-56145-135-7
Flower power--and the power of friendship--prevail in this quaint, environmentally friendly tale set in Australia. Narrator Jess and her friend Sophie, along with three of their younger siblings, spend much of their school holiday peering through hedges and thereby learning about their neighbors' lifestyles. The childless, double-income and multi-car Pyles, for example, are ""into assets""; they pose a sharp contrast to the aging, reclusive Featherby sisters, Alice and Violet, who live in a ramshackle house on potentially prime but grievously neglected property (""Everyone in the neighborhood said [it] was a Disgrace and an Eyesore""). Eventually the children befriend the Featherbys and begin to restore their garden to its former glory. Their efforts help protect the sisters from a money-hungry nephew and the parking-lot-needy Pyles, and guarantee the town a beautiful and historically significant park. Steele, an Australian writer making her U.S. debut, argues somewhat too obviously for preservation over development and her characters are schematic rather than lifelike, but her warmhearted tone may thaw the skeptically minded. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Paperback - 180 pages - 978-1-875657-05-6
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-613-94163-1
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