cover image Khalil and Mr. Hagerty and the Backyard Treasures

Khalil and Mr. Hagerty and the Backyard Treasures

Tricia Springstubb, illus. by Elaheh Taherian. Candlewick, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5362-0306-6

Two-level living results in an intergenerational friendship in Springstubb (the Cody series) and artist Taherian’s leisurely picture book. Khalil’s brown-skinned family, which lives upstairs with colorful curtains, is “big and busy and noisy.” Downstairs occupant Mr. Hagerty, meanwhile, a white, bearded man shown reading the news, prefers quiet. But the boy and the elderly gentleman both enjoy the backyard of their shared residence, where they bond over language. Mr. Hagerty maintains an expansive vegetable garden and leans on Khalil to help him remember words (“my digging thing, my hole maker”); Khalil hunts “for bugs and interesting rocks,” leaning on Mr. Hagerty for help reading. One summer day when “everything looked droopy,” Khalil suggests a hunt for buried treasure, one whose meager findings (a bobby pin, shriveled carrots) lead to better things—refreshments (“big pieces of chocolate cake and tall, cold glasses of milk”) and, by way of a second treasure quest, a burgeoning friendship. In pencil, oil, and collage spreads, illustrator Taherian builds out a layered garden as well as two abodes whose backgrounds hint at the way each friend fills the other’s loneliness. Together with Springstubb’s text, it makes for an affectionate rendering of friendship as a wonderful and unexpected surprise. Ages 5–8. [em](May) [/em]