cover image Stella's Bull

Stella's Bull

Frances Arrington. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-395-67345-4

With a melodious, faintly Southern cadence, this evocative, Depression-era tale rendered by a pair of twin sisters pricks the bubble of childhood's imagined fears. Mary Wilson Montgomery is terrified of the crazed bull rumored to be on Stella's property. When a boy tosses Mary Wilson's spelling book into Stella's field, Mary Wilson is too afraid to retrieve it. But, goaded by the teasing of her classmates, she resolves to get the spelling book and comes face to face with the fabled beast--who turns out to be a standard, fly-flicking, grass-eating bull. With wry humor and skillful, colloquial narration, the author's observations ring true: ``September came and with it school. The only good thing about school was the first day. Mary Wilson decided to take all her new books home, the first day being the only day of the year she had a genuine interest in them.'' Peaceful, blue-and-green-dominated chalk drawings underscore the book's rural setting and era without excluding modern readers from the story's import. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)