The characters featured in Three Cheers for Catherine the Great!
return in this second sweet picture book inspired by the author's fond and funny memories of her Russian grandmother. Eight-year-old Sara and her family and neighbors are sweltering in the city's summer heat. To cool off, the whole crew piles into Mr. Minsky's car for a spur-of-the-moment road trip to the beach. Traffic jams, engine trouble and other delays ensue, but Grandma Catherine's resourcefulness, high spirits and enthusiastic expressions of "Da!" (yes!) keep everyone from having a meltdown. The long-awaited dip in the Atlantic Ocean proves an experience for Sara and Catherine to cherish. Best's fluid text and colorful turns of phrase bring a hot summer day into focus—along with a diverse cast of characters. Her childlike details (they sit "three in the radio seat, three in the sandwich seat and two in the carsick seat in the way, way back") will elicit knowing grins. Potter's vibrant watercolors convey a surprising sense of movement given the flattened, naïve style. With their ever-present crooked smiles, her figures—of pleasantly varied shape, size and dress—capture the story's lighthearted sense of adventure. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)