"Long as I got a biscuit, they got half." When it comes to raising the eight orphans he rescued (with more than a li'l help from Sweetness) from the evil Mrs. Sump, the sheriff clearly has his heart in the right place. Even if his homemaking skills are a little shaky: "Timmy's pants had a great big tear in 'em and I forgot to buy tape three days runnin'." He's also liable to rustle up tuna fish soup or spaghetti with peanut butter for dinner. And he can't read, neither, which poses a particular problem when a letter arrives for him. But a covert raid on literacy skills by Sweetness brings home contentment-not to mention an improvement on the sheriff's cooking. This sequel to
Saving Sweetness (rev. 9/96) answers Diane Stanley's pitch-perfect narrative drawl with G. Brian Karas's homespun-on-the-range pictures, a cozy m,lange of media that warms the comedy with affection. The round-headed, dot-eyed characters have the aplomb of children's drawing, but there's plenty of sophistication in the dramatic placement of the figures and the effective page-turns; funny details, such as the tied-back trousers that serve as window treatments, reward close attention.
In the amiable Saving Sweetness, Stanley and Karas introduced a clumsy and golden-hearted sheriff who adopts little Sweetness and her seven fellow orphans. In this equally charming sequel, the unmarried sheriff labors to be a good parent. "Every dang day I sweep their little beds and hang their clothes out on the line to get clean!" he boasts, unaware that his cleaning methods are dubious at best. The orphans urge him to find a mate, and one day a letter arrives, foreshadowing better times. But the happy ending is postponed, for the sheriff cannot read. It's up to Sweetness to learn her ABCs in a hurry. As readers will suspect, the message comes from the sheriff's "long lost love, Lucy Locket," a New York City teacher who must be lured back to rural Possum Trot to become a happily married working mother of eight. Karas contributes witty pencil portraits of angelic Lucy, the ingenuous sheriff and keen-minded Sweetness. His multimedia collages, which include torn handmade paper, scraps of wallpaper and pasty washes of rosy-hued paint, convey homespun warmth. Stanley, an expert at folksy first-person dialogue, sprinkles the sheriff's amusing narration with Texas vernacular (e.g., he claims to have loved Lucy "since God made dirt"). This comic tale offers almost enough humor to make up for Lucy's getting the lion's share of the chores. If only Part Three could find the sheriff a housecleaning whiz and a decent chef to boot. Ages 5-up. (Mar.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In what PW called "an equally charming sequel," an unmarried sheriff labors to be a good parent to little Sweetness and her seven fellow orphan "siblings" whom he adopted in Saving Sweetness. Here, the orphan octet urges him to find a mate. Ages 5-up. (Oct.)
K-Gr 3-An orphan adopted by a kindhearted sheriff helps reunite her new Pa with his long-lost sweetheart. A laugh-out-loud tale, narrated in a droll Texas drawl and illustrated with cartoon collages. (Jan.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
PreS-Gr 3-In Diane Stanley's delightful sequel (Putnam, 1999) to Saving Sweetness (Putnam, 1996), little Sweetness is no longer an orphan. She, and the other orphans, were all adopted in the first book, and now things should all be maple syrup and hotcakes. Well, things are, but syrup doesn't really belong on potatoes, if you get my drift. Their new pa is a well-meaning man, but he is somewhat flawed when it comes to the basics of day-to-day survival with children. The kids are quick to catch on that this man desperately needs a wife who can teach him that forks aren't for combin' hair and peanut butter doesn't really go with spaghetti. Not that they're complainin', mind you. Things are better than they were, but they could be better yet and, with Sweetness's help, they will be. This old-west story, with a touch of the tall tale, is read in a slow and easy fashion by Tom Bodet, who handles the first-person narrative with just the right level of cluelessness. Appropriate background music and occasional sound effects augment the presentation. Younger children will enjoy the story, while older ones will catch all the tongue-in-cheek humor. Teachers will delight in the wordplay. This story has more figurative language than a hound dog has fleas. All in all, this is a delightful production that's good for just plain listening, and for seeing good writing in action as well.-Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary School, Federal Way, WA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
The kind sheriff of Possum Trot (Saving Sweetness, 1998, not reviewed) has taken a small platoon of orphans under his inept wing to get them away from the evil hands of Mrs. Sump, the orphanage director who "was meaner than a skilletful of rattlesnakes." The sheriff has a big heart but is woefully short of skills when it comes to cooking and housework (he washes the windows with butter, for instance); he can't read, which makes it hard for him to decipher the letter he has been sent. Sweetness, one of his charges, takes it upon herself to learn to read (through a window she secretly audits classes), and her answer to the letter's query brings to her family its culinary salvation, and knits up the sheriff's broken heart as well. Stanley paints the sheriff as an utter goofball-as does Karas, to fine effect in mixed-media paintings-but deeply smitten by his adopted brood and always willing to try something new to make their lives better. Bonehead or not, the sheriff is an agent for compassion and sharing, rare qualities not to be trifled with. (Picture book. 5-10) .