cover image Crossing New Bridge

Crossing New Bridge

Emily Arnold McCully. Putnam Publishing Group, $15.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22618-2

When the Old Bridge crumbles into the river, the townspeople immediately commission the Jubilatti family to construct a replacement. As the relieved mayor begins to plan his ceremonial strut across the new bridge, an elderly woman reminds him of an ancient tradition: the first to cross a new bridge must be the happiest person in town, or a curse will fall on everyone. The mayor searches the cobbled, gabled village for its most joyful citizen, but one by one the likeliest candidates disqualify themselves from the honor. Caldecott Medalist McCully's (Mirette on the High Wire) text ripples with gentle laughter as she catalogues the roots of people's unhappiness: blisters, wrinkles, a lost sovereign, misplaced shoes. Her story moves toward an obvious but satisfying conclusion as the Jubilattis live up to their name. Soft watercolors depict a quaint town in a picturesque Old World full of life and merriment, if not true happiness; the worry-wart mayor, meanwhile, is the picture of genial inefficiency. This agreeable picture book lightly conveys the pleasures of a job well done. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)