cover image Eve and Smithy: An Iowa Tale

Eve and Smithy: An Iowa Tale

Michelle Edwards. HarperCollins Publishers, $15 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-688-11825-9

A departure from her Judaica-themed picture books, Edwards's ( Chicken Man ; Alef-Bet ) latest story pays tribute to the value of friendship and free-spirited individuality. In small-town Iowa, neighbors Eve and Smithy are both of a certain age and share a passion for growing things. Eve loves to tend the sprawling garden behind her purple house, drink dandelion tea and paint in her studio. Smithy, a prize-winning tomato grower, likes to share his advice on mulching and weeding. In return for gardening tips, Eve has decorated her friend's house with several paintings. When Smithy feels compelled to offer Eve a special gift, however, he's hard-pressed to find just the right thing. Edwards captures the warmth of a close relationship in her thoughtful and detail-laden text. As in many other buddy stories (Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad come to mind), the characters' idiosyncrasies suit each other perfectly. The richly colored paintings depict a rainbow of earthy browns, leafy greens, blooming reds and open-sky blue: an accurate Midwestern landscape. While the action is limited, children will likely take a shine to these kindly, quirky Iowans and their simple way of life. Ages 4-up. (May)