cover image 100th Day Worries

100th Day Worries

Margery Cuyler. Simon & Schuster, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-82979-6

For Jessica, a worrier by nature, there's a dark underside to her first grade's 100th Day celebration. In honor of the occasion, her teacher wants each student to round up a collection of 100 small things. The girl spends an entire week ruminating--""100 ice cubes? Too melty. 100 marshmallows? Too sticky. 100 toothpicks? Too pointy""--and the pressure builds as all the other kids' collections start rolling in. But Jessica is fortunate in her family: seeing her bereft and despondent on the morning of the 100th day, each member pitches in (10 buttons from her father, 10 barrettes from her sister, etc.), and her collection of their contributions (which includes 10 ""Xs"" from a comforting letter written by her mother) is hailed by her teacher as ""100 bits of love!"" This is a knowing and funny book that succeeds without patronizing its fretful heroine or sentimentalizing the supportive response of her family. Cuyler's (The Biggest Best Snowman) tight text keeps the story moving apace; Howard's (the Mr. Putter and Tabby series) crisp and colorful cartoon illustrations rendered with an energetic ink line add just the right touch of freneticism. Ages 5-8. (Jan.)