Hot Day on Abbott Avenue

by Karen English (Author) Javaka Steptoe (Illustrator)

Hot Day on Abbott Avenue
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

It's the hottest, stickiest day of the summer. A fat-sun-in-the-sky day. An eating-ice-pops-on-the-porch day. And for Kishi and Renée, it's a best-friends-breakup day. Each girl sits on her own front porch, waiting for the other to apologize, even though they know they'll never speak to each other again, no matter how bored they get. But then the sounds of feet slapping the pavement and voices chanting double-dutch rhymes drift up the avenue, and neither one can resist going out in the street to play.

This lyrical friendship story, the first collaboration of two outstanding artists, pairs a rhythmic text with distinctive collage illustrations. Its subtle message about sharing and forgiveness will resonate with anyone who has ever experienced the ups and downs of being, and having, a best friend.

Publisher's Weekly

English's (Just Right Stew) carefully cadenced narrative sets a scene that conveys the sluggishness of a sizzling day, when it's "too hot to even flutter a fan." The high temperature only fuels the tension between Kishi and Renée, who sneak peeks at each other but refuse to exchange words-"It's a best-friend-breakup day." The girls turn down neighbors' invitations to help do a crossword puzzle or weed a garden ("No working together on a never-speak-to-her-again-even-if-she-was-the-last-person-on-earth day"). Steptoe's (In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall) collage renderings of the girls' simmering anger echoes a palpable sense of heat, with backgrounds overlaid in tissues of orange and red hues. His small, boxy panel compositions underscore a sense of the girls having backed themselves into a corner. Renée finally reveals to a neighbor (and simultaneously to Kishi) the root of the row: Kishi bought the last blue ice pop from the ice cream man even though she knows that is Renée's favorite. When a neighborhood game of double dutch lures the girls to a truce, Steptoe's illustrations burst into full-page and full-spread collages. English works into her narrative the former feuding friends' jump-rope chants, the words to which are playfully arranged to mimic the line of the rope. The denouement may be somewhat syrupy, but youngsters will be pleased to see the girls' hard feelings evaporate, turning the summer afternoon into "a feeling-good-about-being-best-friends-again day." Ages 5-8.

Copyright 2004 Publisher’s Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 3-Innovative illustrations add depth and texture to an evocative text. It's a sunny summer day, but close friends Kishi and Renée are on the outs and stubbornly refuse to play together. Their tempers flare right along with the temperature, but eventually the sweltering midday heat subsides and both are lured from their porches by a vigorous game of double Dutch. By the time the ice-cream man turns the corner, all is forgiven and forgotten. Steptoe's found-object and cut-paper collages highlight facial features and depict oppressive summertime weather to perfection. The characters' full, pouting lips and clingy, perspiration-drenched clothes are made of sheer crepe paper; faces, eyelids, and limbs are cut from cardstock; and substantial twists of raffia and twine become jump ropes and dreadlocks. The images are busy without being cluttered. English's simple narrative consists mostly of two to three sentences per page and ends on a gratifying note. This book cheerfully illustrates the significance of a short memory in a lasting friendship.

Copyright 2004 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Both original and emotionally effective . . . full of movement and energy and joy . . . 'So good!'"

"Audiences will sympathize with the falling-out-with-a-friend blues even as they long for their own blue popsicles."

"High-energy collage illustrations . . . a satisfying summer story about community and friendship."
—The Horn Book

* "Innovative illustrations add depth and texture to an evocative text."
—School Library Journal, starred
Karen English
Coretta Scott King honoree Karen English is the author of It All Comes Down to This and the Carver Chronicles and Nikki and Deja series. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

Laura Freeman has illustrated many books, including her own Natalie's Hair Was Wild! and the Carver Chronicles series. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Clarion Books
Publication date
June 20, 2019
ALA Notable Children's Books, 2005
Multicultural Review, 12/01/04

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