cover image Here Comes Darrell

Here Comes Darrell

Leda Schubert, , illus. by Mary Azarian. . Houghton, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-618-41605-9

Schubert's (Winnie Plays Ball ) warm-hearted story not only evokes the northern Vermont countryside where both author and illustrator live, but it also celebrates a way of life in a rural community where neighbors help each other through the year. Beginning with a below zero winter snow and ending with a golden autumn, readers observe Darrell chopping and hauling extra wood to keep a poor family warm, rising at four a.m. to plow people's driveways, and digging a basement with his backhoe, but he neglects to heed his wife's warnings to fix the roof on their own barn. Azarian's (Snowflake Bentley ) hand-colored woodcuts highlight the beauty to be found in each season. While at times the people and Darrell's dog seem uncharacteristically frozen in space, more often the detailed woodcuts brim with homely, individualized portraits and picturesque landscapes. When the fall wind damages Darrell's roof, the families repay his many kindnesses by pitching in to raise a new one. Although the narrative hero is Darrell, Schubert inserts several children into the text: Darrell lets Tommy climb into his truck to plow a hill of snow, digs an extra hole so Andy can have a frog pond and promises to teach the Barrett children how to whittle. Unfortunately, the interaction with the children seems tacked on rather than integral to the story, and children may find this tale about a kind workman a bit too removed to be of interest. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)