Agatha May Walker and Eulalie Scruggs are lifelong friends who live directly across from each other on Rushmore Boulevard. The aptly named thoroughfare has become so congested (“Cars zipped
by. Motorcycles roared
. Giant trucks rumbled
, coming through, coming through”) that the simple act of visiting one another has become downright dangerous. So Agatha engages in a classic act of civil disobedience: she plants a wingback chair smack in the middle of the street and offers her homemade gingersnaps to even the rudest drivers. Page by page, the traffic retreats, neighbors emerge from their homes and soon Agatha and Eulalie are presiding over a festive pedestrian playground, complete with mariachi band. The heroines' willingness to take a stand in the name of civility and community shows that even little old ladies (and, by implication, little kids) can make a difference. It's a story that could easily turn preachy or treacly, but Rockliff (Next to an Ant
) and the always buoyant McMenemy (Everybody Bonjours!
) proffer their object lesson with a light touch: the reportorial prose and cheery, naïve drawings exude a matter-of-fact optimism that's genuinely inspiring. Ages 5–8. (Oct.)