By Cynthia Rylant
Sometimes, browsing at a school book fair, you pick up a book on a pure whim, and... you LOVE it. That happened to me and my daughters this year, and so we want to share the news and the title(s): Cynthia Rylant's in Aunt Lucy's Kitchen, the first in her six part series The Cobble Street Cousins.
Cynthia Rylant is best known for her wildly popular and by now classic Henry and Mudge series for early readers. She also won the Newbery Medal for her 1993 book Missing May. The Cobble Street Cousins is one of this extraordinary author's lesser-known series, which just goes to show that she has talent to spare.
The Cobble Street cousins are Lily, Tess and Rosie, three nine-year-old dreamers who are spending a year living in their Aunt Lucy's attic while their parents tour the world with a ballet company. Aunt Lucy is a free-spirited florist, and, in the first book of the series, the three girls make the most of their relatively unsupervised summer together. The kick the vacation off by starting their own cookie company, whereby they meet all kinds of interesting people in the neighborhood, including a woman celebrating her 90th year, and an eminently eligible bachelor who may be just the man for Aunt Lucy!
As you can guess, a bit of match-making comes into the story, and one Amazon reviewer astutely likened the books to Jane Austen for elementary school kids (what could be better?). Granted, these tales may be more popular with you daughters than your sons, but who's to say? If it weren't for romance, where would any of us be?
With sweet pencil sketches woven into the text, these books make a perfect transition from picture to chapter books. The stories offer an innocent and loving picture of three girls' first steps toward independence, even as they celebrate the creativity of childhood. Just lovely.
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