cover image Halley Came to Jackson [With *]

Halley Came to Jackson [With *]

Mary Chapin Carpenter, Mary Chapin Carpenter. HarperCollins, $15.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-06-025400-1

As she did in Dreamland: A Lullaby, Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Carpenter brings her image-rich lyrics to a picture-book audience, this time focusing on Halley's comet and the awe it evokes in the people of Jackson, Miss., as they sight it in 1910. Inspired by a family story told by Eudora Welty in One Writer's Beginnings, Carpenter's tale introduces a baby whose father holds her in his arms to see the great comet's tail ""stretched out like a stardust streak""; it then fast-forwards to 1986, when the baby is now a white-haired woman, watching for the comet ""from her daddy's porch"" once again. Carpenter's words echo Welty's tone; they suggest a cherished story passed through the generations. In nostalgic, gently muted oil paintings, Andreasen recreates a time when neighbors gathered on porches and front yards to gaze at the night sky, and newspapers wrote about the astronomical event ""every day for a week."" His clouds and stars are a swirl of color and scratchy texture, and tender portraits of a chubby baby and a thoughtful old woman depict a life that has come full circle. As a bonus, an audiocassette recording of Carpenter's performance of this song is included. Ages 4-up. (Sept.)