Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie

pickle image

Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie

By Julie Sternberg, Illustrated by Matthew Cordell

 

Published by: Amulet Books; 1 edition (March 18, 2011)

Available in: hardcover, paperback, Kindle, NOOK

At the time of this review there were three books in a “juice” series by this author.

 

Tender.

Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie is something wonderful. There’s a lot more going on than in most chapter books, and where first appearances speak to simplicity, thoughtful craft rules the end product.

little-girl-pickleOur protagonist is the dry-witted Eleanor, a city girl who has to explore the sadness of someone important leaving, the hurt of missing as time goes on, and the reluctance of a new relationship. She also learns acceptance, and even discovers unexpected joy.

Eleanor is somewhat reminiscent of Charlie Brown, Billy Crystal and Woody Allen in her dry, somewhat pessimistic tone. But this is never a downer. And the comparison is especially poignant as artist Cordell’s illustrations are nostalgic and unassuming. Power to those who draw softly.taxi

The real gem, though, is writer Sternberg’s spare, poetic prose. The rhythm, pace and sheer elegance of emotions are stellar. For example, see one section in chapter 17:

It was bad because

Natalie ran my bath

and checked the water

and checked it again

to make sure it wasn’t too hot.

Just like Bibi.

When Bibi stayed late.

To make it complete, the art direction is unfussy and clean. The no-nonsense, blunt, sans serif typeface perfectly captures the first person voice of our young narrator. And the quick chapters make this an ideal fit with the sensitive independent reader.

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What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….