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Kirkus Reviews June 15th, 2003
Halperin's great gift is to make expressive and exquisitely detailed pictures: large ones to cover the page; and smaller related vignettes, often in a row along the sides or top or bottom like an ancient altarpiece. She does this to excellent effect in Cates's gentle story of Lolly, who at last gets to spend month with Auntie Zep but finds she misses her parents terribly. Auntie Zep takes her to the attic to retrieve from an old trunk the Secret Remedy Book, bound in flowered wallpaper and written in a spidery Halperin hand. There are seven remedies that must be done before the first hoot of an owl. Lolly and Aunt Zep savor a glass of apple juice, until they can almost taste the very tree it came from. Other remedies include planting, observing, and reading that very special passage in a favorite book. By bedtime and the owl's hoot, they have done all seven, including the last, which is "Dream of doing great things. You must think of one small, great thing you can do tomorrow." Solace, ritual, simplicity, tenderness, and care for the natural world are offered on each page as naturally as breathing, and the pale radiance of Halperin's illustrations bring comfort and joy.
Booklist June 15th, 2003
Lolly loves visiting Auntie Zep, but this time, she's homesick. Auntie Zep thinks Lolly's tears can be cured by her Secret Remedy book. Lolly drinks apple juice, almost tasting the blossoms; she and her aunt plant seeds and notice something they've never seen before on a walk; they feed a wild thing, read, write a letter, and dream of great things as the remedies work. Halperin's art has a way of making a book special, no matter who the book's author is. That's true here, though Cates' sweet sentiments (and useful ideas) will certainly appeal to children. The marvelously detailed pictures are layered with details that extend the text. For instance, the trunk containing the book has &&a watery smell like the ocean and a sun-dried smell." The border art shows such events as the trunk on a wagon, a ship, a sleigh, and a plane, as it tells a story within the story. A delightfully hands-on approach to chasing away the blues. -Ilene Cooper
(May 5, 2003; 0-439-35226-6)
The best remedy for homesickness? Small acts of kindness, reflection and being in the moment, Cates (A Far-Fetched Story) gently asserts. When young Lolly finds herself unexpectedly missing her family during a much-anticipated visit to her bohemian Auntie Zep, her aunt takes her up to the attic to a trunk that "had once traveled far." An overview spread depicts its contents, from which Auntie Zep takes the well-worn Secret Remedy Book. Together, Lolly and her aunt undertake its seven tasks, which must be completed "before the first hoot of an owl-or none of them will work!" Both the leisurely pace of the text and the series of paintings that follow a walk through the woods ("You must see something that you have never noticed before") or undertaking to "Write a cheerful letter to some dear soul" ("You must put something unexpected in the envelope," the remedy continues) reflect a faith that all will be completed in a timely way, without rushing. Halperin's (Homeplace) characteristic patchwork of pictures rendered in soft, bleached hues work to great effect here. On one spread, she depicts aunt and niece writing their letters in their own rooms as the main action; in corresponding side panels, Lolly encloses a mockingbird feather in a note to her father while the aunt tucks a heart-shaped leaf into a letter to Lolly's mother; an inset illustration shows them going to the mailbox together. Halperin's paintings simulate lovingly stitched quilts that nicely echo the Remedy Book's handcrafted, heirloom appearance. Ages 5-up. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.