cover image Jamaica and Brianna

Jamaica and Brianna

Juanita Havill, Anne S. C'Brien. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-395-64489-8

Peer approval and the need for good communication are the themes of this quietly appealing story. Like many younger siblings, Jamaica is often stuck wearing hand-me-downs, in this case, her big brother's ``old gray boots.'' After her friend Brianna makes fun of Jamaica for wearing ``boy boots,'' the resourceful heroine enlarges a hole in the toe of one of the offending galoshes, thus speeding up the need for a trip to the shoe store. When Jamaica returns to school, resplendent in a brand-new pair of cowboy boots, Brianna is once again ready with a put-down. Hurt, Jamaica retaliates with a remark about Brianna's own footwear. As in her previous Jamaica books, Havill displays a clear grasp of what matters to children. The simple, direct prose finds its complement in O'Brien's cozy, realistic watercolors. The pictures of Jamaica and Brianna are convincing; an additional pleasure are the vividly rendered bit players (Jamaica's classmates and family) who grace the background of nearly every page. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)