cover image The Story of May

The Story of May

Mordicai Gerstein. HarperCollins Publishers, $16 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-022288-8

April is usually full of jokes, but in a serious moment she teaches her daughter May ``certain things a young spring month is expected to do.'' After a little practice at greeting returning birds and so on, May strikes out on her own--and promptly gets lost. Aunt June, gardening in a green velvet dress, delivers her to the watermelon-eating Uncle July, setting in motion a chain of reunions with relatives. What could easily be coy becomes touching as Gerstein weaves in a storyline about May's estranged father, December, who welcomes her and describes his whirlwind courtship of her mother and the breakup of their marriage: ``There was trouble from the start. I'd coat the trees with gorgeous ice, not noticing your mother had sewn new leaves on them.'' (Delivered home at last, May tells April that December sends his love--``Humph!'' says April.) Busy watercolors in a variety of seasonal hues further incarnate the passing months. October, for example, is first seen decked out in golden leaves, perched on a bough picking apples, and March is strapped to a blue-and-silver kite. It's not the myth of Persephone, but its lightness is deceptive and its message worthy. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)