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Be Good to Eddie Lee
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Virginia Fleming is the author of the picture book Be Good to Eddie Lee.

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In this touching picture book, a girl discovers a new capacity for friendship when she spends some time with a neighbor boy who has Down's Syndrome. Christy's mother has told her to ``be good to Eddie Lee,'' because he is ``lonesome'' and ``different.'' Christy, however, would rather go wading with her friend JimBud than be pestered by Eddie Lee. But when Eddie Lee, uninvited, follows the two kids, Christy reluctantly includes her neighbor and is pleasantly surprised at how the afternoon turns out. Fleming's story accurately captures the attitudes and behavior children often adopt when it comes to tolerating peers who are different. Her characters ring true without being stereotypes and her message about acceptance and friendship is poignant, not heavy-handed. Shimmering with summer sunlight, Cooper's oil washes depict a lush and pastoral setting. Sensitive portraits of all three children provide a depth of emotion that supplements the spare, perceptive text. Eddie Lee's facial features clearly identify his mental and physical challenges, but his portrayal remains positive, realistic and non-threatening. This successful collaboration is a rarity for its potential to entertain, educate and encourage deeper consideration for others. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)

K-Gr 2-On the first day of summer vacation, Christy follows her friend JimBud to a nearby pond, looking for something to do. When Eddie Lee, a child with Down's syndrome, follows them, Christy tells him to stay home, and JimBud tries to chase him away. Only when Eddie Lee leads the girl to a hidden place to show her frog eggs and water lillies does she fully grasp that everyone is special and has unique, individual gifts. Cooper's attractive, full-page borderless scenes of the rural South- waist-high, straw-colored weeds; a clear, rippling stone-bottomed brook; hazy green woods and water-are painted in oil wash, but have the smudgy appearance of oil pastel. Clearly the focus of the illustrations is the insightfully realistic portraits of Eddie Lee, and it is Cooper's artful accompaniment to the text that truly brings out the author's positive message. Berniece Rabe's Where's Chimpy? (Albert Whitman, 1988) is aimed at three to five-year-olds, as is Cairo Jasmine's Our Brother Has Down's Syndrome (Annick, 1985). Be Good to Eddie Lee is welcome for slightly older children, but mostly for the realism it exudes rather than the somewhat contrived story.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH

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