cover image The Old Meadow

The Old Meadow

George Selden. Farrar Straus Giroux, $15 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-374-35616-3

Selden's well-loved, diminutive hero Chester Cricket is back. The meadow that is home to him and a host of other animals is declared a historical landmark, and old Abner Budd, a hermit who has been kind to the animals over the years, is facing eviction. The animals' efforts to help Mr. Budd only seem to make matters worse, until an imaginative plan led by a mockingbird of rare voice persuades the townspeople that the meadow is Mr. Budd's fitting, natural home. Once again, Selden has spun a tale of engaging whimsy and charm, marred only by a slow start laced with long descriptions of Mr. Budd's past. The language is by turns folksy and lyricalone can almost hear the piercing sweetness of the bird's song; and he succeeds in evoking the meadow and its memorable, idiosyncratic inhabitants. Underneath the story's action and humor lies an eloquent message about the importance of unspoiled nature and of the harmony that can result from shared, unselfish endeavors. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 9-13. (October)