cover image Hurry!


Emily Arnold McCully. Harcourt Children's Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-201579-4

McCully's (Mirette on the High Wire) sensitively wrought paintings buoy this eloquent and wistful narrative, adapted from Harry Hartwick's Farewell to the Farivox, which introduces a 10-year-old boy living in Iowa in 1916 and the idea of endangered species. One day, Tom peers into a stranger's crate on a wagon and spies a curious creature. The stranger tells Tom it is a rare farivox--and that it can talk--and the entranced lad negotiates to buy the animal for $10. As he dashes home to collect his savings, Tom hears the critter utter one word: ""Hurry."" McCully captures the boy's excitement in one spread as he sails past a menacing dog in a vast expanse of cobblestone streets and picket fences, and in another vignette shows his last-ditch effort to come up with a few more coins by returning bottles to the grocer. But by the time Tom returns, the stranger and his farivox have departed. His sense of devastation surfaces unmistakably in an affecting and graceful watercolor painting of the boy's downcast face as shadows engulf him, as well as in a parting shot of him, his back to readers, as if searching the horizon one last time for his coveted pet. The double message of being too late to save a rare animal and of never really being able to own another creature will not be lost on readers. This resonant tale is as pertinent for today's readers as it was in Hartwick's day, and McCully's visual depictions make it perhaps even more accessible. Ages 6-9. (Apr.)