cover image OLD BLUE BUGGY


Fran Swift, Frances Swift, , illus. by Carol Thompson. . Dutton, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-45766-4

Swift debuts with a lively story that, like the events it describes, contains elements of both the joyous and the poignant. An old-fashioned blue buggy comes to represent a boy's passage through infancy and toddlerhood. Henry's mother pushes Henry in his buggy, bumping and clunking their way to the park, grocery store, etc. As they travel, Henry's mom—and later, Henry—sing a catchy ditty: "Big buggy blue, blue buggy blue,/ Be-bop-a, blue-bop-a, buggy-bop-a-boo." Thompson's (My Most Favorite Thing) exuberant collage paintings conjure a big-city backdrop; the artist's soft, fluid lines evoke the colorful jumble of domestic life as shared with a baby. Busy, detailed vignettes seem to want to burst from the panels to which Thompson wisely confines them. Dogs chase pigeons on sidewalks, merchants smile from shop windows and a bag lady (who figures prominently in the ending) goes about her business, tucked away in the corners of several scenes. Incorporated into the paintings, bits of brightly colored tissue paper and scraps of newspaper add to the visual interest, as do the simple black-and-white watercolors of mother and baby outings that wind across the bottom of several pages. Henry inevitably outgrows his buggy in the bittersweet conclusion—though a surprising twist will leave readers smiling. Ages 4-8. (May)