cover image Neeny Coming, Neeny Going

Neeny Coming, Neeny Going

Karen English, English. Troll Communications, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-8167-3796-3

This book purports to acknowledge changes that have taken place over the years in the Sea Islands off South Carolina: the encroachment of pollution, job losses, migration to the mainland. However, newcomer English tells her tale in such an oblique way that without the introduction it would be difficult to glean her intent. The narrator, Essie, lives with her grandmother on Daufuskie Island and is eagerly awaiting the arrival of cousin Neeny. The two girls had been ""like sisters"" until Neeny moved to the mainland to be with her mother. At first Essie's emotion is infectious (""Neeny coming!-Neeny coming tomorrow!""), but as soon as her cousin steps ashore, twirling a parasol, it is obvious (to the reader, if not to Essie) that the visit will be a letdown. Neeny has changed-""Neeny come like a visitor who didn't want to visit"" and the rest of the text catalogues her disdainful comparisons of island ways with the refinements of her city home. Saint James's (Tukama Tootles the Flute) abstract artwork, for all its bright blocks of color and dramatic style, fails to add much zest; her silhouetted figures seem to be suspended in silence and stillness. Only her spread of Neeny's going-away party suggests the vigor of island life. A disappointment. Ages 5-8. (Apr.)