cover image I Know Everything about John & He Knows

I Know Everything about John & He Knows

Louise Fitzhugh, Louise Ritzhugh. Doubleday Books for Young Readers, $13.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-385-30802-1

The posthumously published story by the author of Harriet the Spy exhibits an even gentler touch than do her other picture books ( I Am Five , etc.). A boy describes his special relationship with his best friend by listing their similarities and their differences. Their closeness is also reflected in their familiarity with each other's houses: ``We know what's in each other's refrigerators, which steps creak on each other's stairs.'' Not once does the narrator comment on the most obvious difference--that the narrator is Asian American and John is African American--it's equally obvious that this is not significant to the boys. Fitzhugh's catalogue of small but telling details adds up to everything that is important to know about a best friend, and aptly demonstrates the author's knowledge of her audience. Hoban's purple- and orange-hued pastels have warmth but lend the already soft text a greeting card ambiance. Even though the text mentions fighting, for example, the boys maintain almost cherubic expressions throughout. And while Fitzhugh presents each boy's specific attributes, Hoban's fuzzy strokes tend to obscure their features, their faces especially, so that the boys look somewhat generic. Beyond conveying the multiracial theme, the art does little to enrich the text. Ages 4-7. (Nov.)