Grade 1-4--Daniel, an African-American boy dressed as a cowboy, and his aunt are off to do some shopping, including a visit to his favorite place, the Candy Shop. He describes the urban neighborhood they pass through to get to the stores: "Men sit on porches. Some houses are boarded up. We walk faster. There are empty lots." When they finally get to their destination, they find a crowd gathered and the Taiwanese owner, Miz Chu, in tears. Someone has written hateful words on the sidewalk in front of her shop. Daniel desperately wants to help and so he takes a bucket and brush and scrubs away those "dumb words." Wong's detailed, mixed-media illustrations capture the cityscape and the people who inhabit it. Wahl's story shows the love and caring that bind good people together. Aunt Thelma tells the upset woman, "
don't pay no never mind. There's mean, nasty folk in the world, but most are fine as gold." Like the characters in Eve Bunting's Smoky Night (Harcourt, 1994) and Christopher Myers's Wings (Scholastic, 2000), Daniel and his aunt help love triumph over hate. This picture book about tolerance will sit proudly on any library shelf.--Kathleen Whalin, York Public Library, ME
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K-Gr. 3. Daniel, a young African American boy, loves being a cowboy and wears the gear even when he goes shopping with Aunt Thelma. The mixed urban neighborhood where they live is full of small shops; in one, Daniel gets a haircut, though he protests cowboys don't do that. When they get to Daniel's destination of choice, the Candy Shop, a big crowd has gathered to read the ugly words written on the sidewalk (not shown) in front of Miz Chu's store. A cowboy, Daniel figures, would do something, so he gets a bucket and a brush and washes the words away. Aunt Thelma sends the crowd home and invites Miz Chu over for some sweet potato pie. The bright colors of the candy in the store reflect the many colors of the neighborhood population, and the clean hues and supple lines of the pictures support Wahl's gentle message of comfort and tolerance. GraceAnne DeCandido
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