cover image The Place Where Nobody Stopped

The Place Where Nobody Stopped

Jerry Segal. Orchard Books (NY), $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-531-05897-8

This evocative, folksy narrative brings to life a place and time seldom explored in children's literature--a small Russian village, circa 1900. Its focus is on the pleasures of community and sharing, as felt by Yosip the baker, the burgeoning Jewish family he takes in and makes a home for, and the village's peasants, who eke out a meager living cutting wood. Yet there are shadows as well, most notably from the repressive, brutal policies of the czar and his cossacks. The first of a trilogy, Segal's debut children's book is a fully realized picture of life with all its joys and sorrows, peopled by vivid characters who are both particularized and universal in their hopes and fears. Pilkey ( A Friend for Dragon ; 'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving ) contributes a stunning Chagallian jacket, and his quirky pencil drawings--an intriguing blend of modern and primitive styles--help suggest the force of personalities and place. Ages 11-13. (May)