Picks and Pans Review: New for Children

updated 11/11/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/11/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

>IRENE AND THE BIG, FINE NICKEL BY IRENE SMALLS-HECTOR

A lot happens to this spunky 7-year-old as she makes her Saturday morning rounds through the streets of Harlem in 1957. She absorbs the sounds of Billie Holiday and Mahalia Jackson records coming through the windows, waits patiently for Miss Sally to make a banana pudding, gears up for a fight with one of her three best friends, finds a nickel that will buy a raisin bun—and a reconciliation.

Like the very best children's stories, this one is as timeless as it is time-specific, and the euphony of its African-American phrases makes it a delight to read aloud. Tyrone Geter's soft, nostalgic paintings further enhance the portrait of an idyllic Harlem where "nobody locked the door, and you never questioned being black because there were a million people who looked just like you." Ages 4-8. (Little, Brown, $14.95)

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