cover image Nancy


Karen Barbour. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $13.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-256675-3

A lively illustration introduces four girls who are best friends and do everything together: play, dig mud holes, even annoy the neighborhood grouch. When Nancy moves in nearby, the friends deem her ``awful,'' and will have absolutely nothing to do with her. Soon, however, they are forced to go to Nancy's birthday party, which turns out to be quite a lavish affair, with elegant edibles and riotous dancing by all. Nancy, in fact, even ``showed them her collection of bugs and reptiles,'' with the predictable conclusion that she is admitted to their circle. Barbour's ( Little Nino's Pizzeria ) boisterous art has a primitive quality that enlivens a rather pedestrian story--the birthday bash is particularly effective; but the tale of the outsider becoming an insider has been done in more interesting fashion. Lack of motivation is also a problem here: neither the story nor the pictures gives any indication of why Nancy is so immediately unpopular. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)