Friday, Dec. 17, 2004

The Friend By Sarah Steward - Pictures by David Small

This wistful tale in verse, lyrically illustrated by the writer's husband, tells how Belle, a neglected child of privilege, befriends her housekeeper Bea in lieu of absentee parents. Day in, day out, the pair do gardening, shopping and housework together, punctuated by regular outings to the house's beachfront — "Belle and Bea, by the sea, hand in hand." The tact with which Bea fills a maternal role is touching, the warmth of their bond palpable. One day Belle ventures onto the beach by herself and chases her big red ball into the sea. A crisis ensues that teaches her the true measure of Bea and the true meaning of friendship. In a poignant twist, the book's final page reveals the identity of grownup Belle: author Stewart.