cover image Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie

Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie

Julie Sternberg, illus. by Matthew Cordell, Abrams/Amulet, $14.95 (128p) ISBN 978-0-8109-8424-0

"I had a bad August," announces eight-year-old Eleanor at the start of this empathetic debut novel. The main reason? Her beloved and longtime babysitter, Bibi, is moving from Brooklyn to Florida. No less resonant for its simplicity and accessibility, Eleanor's ingenuous free-verse monologue should strike a chord with readers, especially those who may have had to cope with the loss of a loved one. When Eleanor's mother takes time off from work after Bibi's departure (reassuring Eleanor that they'll "get through this together"), Eleanor, still smarting, refuses to engage in any of the activities that she and Bibi enjoyed ("We could not go to Roma Pizza./ Because Bibi loved Roma Pizza.... We could not ride my bike./ Because Bibi helped pick out my bike"). Eleanor's gradual warming to her new sitter is affectingly narrated, and Cordell's halftone cartoons convey the story's pathos and humor, as well as Eleanor's changeable moods. When the girl's best friend returns from vacation and they start third grade, it seems certain that Eleanor's September will be better than her August. Her fans will want to read about it. Ages 8–10. (Mar.)