cover image The Low-Down Laundry Line Blues

The Low-Down Laundry Line Blues

C. M. Millen, Cynthia Millen. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $15 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-395-87497-4

Snazzy rhyming verse and breezy watercolor illustrations create a rollicking flirtation with the blues in this surefire cure for the doldrums. Determined to mope around (""I feel as down and as lonely/ as an empty laundry line""), an older sister resists her sibling's efforts to perk up the day. But, equally stubborn, the younger girl persists with her infectious invitations: ""Be-bop a lollipop!/ Do you like to hop alot?"" she asks, ignoring the negative retorts. In an inventive solution, the younger sibling transforms the image of despair--an empty laundry line--to one of delight with a game of jump rope and its requisite rhymes. Millen's (A Symphony for the Sheep) rhythm and blues-inflected verse is studded with images of gaiety (lollipops and hopscotch, sweet potatoes and jump rope). Davenier's (Very Best [Almost] Friends) buoyant illustrations almost as supple as the music of the blues greats. The watery tones of Davenier's palette, in predominant shades of red, brown and blue, and the older girl's slumped shoulders and downcast countenance expertly express her emotional state, while the exuberant poses of the younger girl might just get pouty youngsters off the couch to ""Shake, shimmy, and roll!"" Scenes of the pair cavorting accompanied by their pet dachshund or hightailing it down the front stoop are joyous, as are the endpaper drawings--laundry lines filled with colorful clothing. A fun and comforting lesson that moods come and go like the weather. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)