cover image Market Day

Market Day

Eve Bunting. HarperCollins Publishers, $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-025364-6

It's almost impossible to read this winsome tale without lapsing into an Irish brogue. Seven-year-old Tess meets her friend, Wee Boy, at the market held monthly in their Irish village. A lively affair, with a cornucopia of colorful goods for sale, market day also serves as a setting for unusual performances by extravagant characters, such as Baba-Ali, the sword swallower, and Jehosophat, who walks on hot coals,. Of course, the streets are filled with plenty of noisy livestock, too. Bunting (Smoky Night; Train to Somewhere, reviewed below) succeeds in finding just the right sensory ingredients to captivate a child. On bite-size honeycombs: ""The honey tastes of the flowers the bees drank from, and the wax is as thick in your mouth as chewing gum."" Tess's friendship with Wee Boy, whose growth has been stunted, adds a tender underpinning to the story; Tess spends her last ha'penny on a reassuring fortune-teller, who predicts that Wee Boy will be ""big and brave as [he'll] ever need to be."" Berry (The Gift of Christmas) illustrates with stylized simplicity, tempering her brio with attention to patterns. Bright natural colors convey the gaiety of the market against a backdrop of fieldstone houses and cobbled streets. A Celtic charmer. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)