cover image Across the Blue Mountains

Across the Blue Mountains

Emma Chichester Clark. Harcourt Children's Books, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-201220-5

Chichester Clark's ( The Minstrel and the Dragon Pup ; I Never Saw a Purple Cow ) deceptively quiet tale spurs wanderlust and ``what if'' fantasies while also extolling the virtues of staying home. Miss Bilberry fills her days gardening, napping and tending to her pets. Although she is content living in a small house at the foot of the blue mountains, she cannot help wondering if life might be even sweeter on the other side. When she can no longer stand the suspense, she packs up her belongings (and her dog, cat and birds) and crosses the wilderness. But Miss Bilberry is hardly a trained explorer, and the going is tough. Only Chester the cat knows that they're headed in the wrong direction. At expedition's end, the weary travelers end up at a place that looks remarkably like home. Chichester Clark's breezy writing style matches the quirky, can-do spirit of Miss Bilberry. The trademark watercolors depict a peaceful setting and play up natural wonders with a sometimes intense palette, while the characters' varied expressions radiate a warm humor. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)