cover image Gabby Growing Up

Gabby Growing Up

Amy Hest. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80573-8

In their adroit sequel to The Purple Coat, Hest and Schwartz lovingly recreate postwar New York City, but the issues they address are timeless. As she and her mother ride the train into the city on Grampa's birthday, Gabby admires the short, ""perky"" hairdo of a teenage girl. ""You'll look too grown-up,"" protests Mama later that day, when the child asks the barber to snip off her braids. Viewing her newly bobbed tresses, Gabby frets that she doesn't look like herself--and perhaps does look too old. And she has other worries: Do her ears stick out too much and will Grampa like her new hairstyle and will he mind that the mittens she knitted for him have crooked stitches and bumps in both thumbs? Grampa's responses are, of course, entirely reassuring, as is his revelation that Gabby's mother had made an even bolder move, chopping off her braids all by herself over the kitchen sink. Gabby's conclusion that she wants to do her growing up ""slowly"" will register yet another comforting note for youngsters in a world where ""growing up"" is often measured by bounding leaps rather than small steps. Schwartz's quaint gouache and pencil illustrations are faithful to the period setting yet also incorporate a contemporary sense of color and pattern, like the story bridging a different era and the present. A thoughtful, effective collaboration. Ages 5-8. (Feb.)