cover image Emily and Alice

Emily and Alice

Joyce Champion. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $13.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200588-7

A mutual taste for peanut butter cookies may not be enough of a basis for a special friendship, as Champion shows in her chronicle of two young neighbors who quickly ``decide to be best friends.'' In one of three episodes here, Emily, the more accommodating of the duo, patiently indulges Alice's zealous vigilance over a sick toy bear although she really wants to go skating. After ministering to all the bear's (and Alice's) needs, Emily is almost too tired to skate, and she concludes that ``it's not easy being a best friend.'' Matters come to a head when each girl stubbornly refuses to make the trek in the rain to the other's house. Children will surely identify with Alice's verbal trap, ``If you were really my friend . . . '' and with Emily's bitter fantasy of Alice disloyally entertaining the ``whole neighborhood.'' Stevenson's (the Henry and Mudge books) loose, confident lines of exaggerated gestures and movements capture the girls' energy and nuances of emotion. Her bright, expressive acrylics have verve and charm, capturing the slightly volatile chemistry between eager Emily and the more demanding Alice. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)