cover image THE SECRET REMEDY BOOK: A Story of Comfort and Love

THE SECRET REMEDY BOOK: A Story of Comfort and Love

Karin Cates, , illus. by Wendy Anderson Halperin. . Scholastic/Orchard, $16.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-439-35226-0

The best remedy for homesickness? Small acts of kindness, reflection and being in the moment, Cates (A Far-Fetched Story) gently asserts. When young Lolly finds herself unexpectedly missing her family during a much-anticipated visit to her bohemian Auntie Zep, her aunt takes her up to the attic to a trunk that "had once traveled far." An overview spread depicts its contents, from which Auntie Zep takes the well-worn Secret Remedy Book. Together, Lolly and her aunt undertake its seven tasks, which must be completed "before the first hoot of an owl—or none of them will work!" Both the leisurely pace of the text and the series of paintings that follow a walk through the woods ("You must see something that you have never noticed before") or undertaking to "Write a cheerful letter to some dear soul" ("You must put something unexpected in the envelope," the remedy continues) reflect a faith that all will be completed in a timely way, without rushing. Halperin's (Homeplace) characteristic patchwork of pictures rendered in soft, bleached hues work to great effect here. On one spread, she depicts aunt and niece writing their letters in their own rooms as the main action; in corresponding side panels, Lolly encloses a mockingbird feather in a note to her father while the aunt tucks a heart-shaped leaf into a letter to Lolly's mother; an inset illustration shows them going to the mailbox together. Halperin's paintings simulate lovingly stitched quilts that nicely echo the Remedy Book's handcrafted, heirloom appearance. Ages 5-up. (June)