K-Gr 2-While young listeners may miss the references to this story's place in time (early 1950s), they're sure to pick up on the underlying messages about envy, self-acceptance, and the value of kindness. Young Junie Mae mopes over her straight, stringy hair and yearns for a beauty-parlor perm like the one flaunted by her uppity neighbor, Lucinda Bodine. Her grandfather, a rural veterinarian, tries to distract Junie Mae by taking her along on his rounds. When Mrs. Olsen offers her a litter of kittens, the girl is convinced she's finally found a way to earn money. Alas, all of the neighbors are as poor as she is, at least when it comes to cash. What she discovers, however, is that they are long on love and will certainly take better care of the kittens than the careless Lucinda, so she gives them away to good homes. Hearn's illustrations (somewhat reminiscent of Lisa Ernst's work) have a cheery charm that suits the slightly old-fashioned story perfectly. Although faces are simply drawn, they are particularly expressive, adding humor and depth to the narrative. Despite a relatively long text and low-key plot, this pleasant, positive picture book holds plenty of appeal for contemporary children.-Lisa Dennis, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Straight-haired Junie Mae would dearly love to have beauty-parlor curls just like her rich friend Lucinda Bodine. Unfortunately Junie Mae's grandfather, the local veterinarian, is paid in barter (milk, squash, beans, pie, and kittens) instead of money, and she can see no way to remedy her sad situation. As the pair make their rounds along Dairy Farm Road, he cares for the neighborhood animals while she rides in a wooden cart tending to their payments and trying to solve her problem. Finally, a neighbor agrees to braid her hair (a decorated horse's mane suggests the idea), and Junie Mae at last feels proud of her appearance. Hearn's full-color artwork captures the laidback feeling of the story's 1950s setting. The contrasts between Junie Mae and Lucinda are vividly portrayed by both author and artist, and young listeners will appreciate the way Junie Mae deals successfully with her envy.