Sunday, June 09, 2013

Love's Labors Lost?... : One Bright Ring by Gretchen Geser


Everyone loves a lover, and even a young girl out for a stroll with Mom knows that romance is on the mind of a red-haired young man with a big smile and and huge bouquet of roses in his hand. He is surely hurrying to meet the girl of his dreams and pop the big question!

But--hold the violins!

A ring--THE RING--has just fallen through a hole in his jacket pocket and bounced across the sidewalk to land at the little girl's feet..

Our girl is honest and she instantly figures out that that one bright ring is soon going to be sorely missed. Pulling her mother behind her, she dashes after the young man. But just as she calls out to him, TWO jackhammers commence their racket at the curb, and the young man never hears her cry. With THREE tugs on Mom's arm, she runs after the young man, but a wide stroller with FOUR babies blocks her way. Just as she gets around the tots, a dog walker comes into view with FIVE frisky hounds trying to go in five different directions at the same time. Then there are SIX signs on the corner, and one of them sadly says STOP! The young man is totally out of sight!

But our girl has the heart of a true romantic, and she is sure he must be meeting his sweetheart in a lovely little pocket park nearby. With a regretful look, she passes a bakery with SEVEN enticing cupcakes on a tiered stand and keeps on going. Then she sees the red-haired suitor through the trees. As she draws near, she tiptoes EIGHT quiet steps to peer through some bushes, and there is the young man with his intended. She is holding her roses and the young man is reaching for the ring. He looks in his pocket NINE times--frantically--with TEN tears running down his cheeks. Suddenly our girl knows just what to do to make this scene turn out just the way the young man had dreamed!

Gretchen Geser's just-published One Bright Ring (Henry Holt, 2013) is an appealing story of love's labors (nearly) lost which also manages to be a counting book and a sweet little treatise on honesty to boot. Geser's cityscape is simple but charming, making use of the motif of the silent observer, in this case a little black cat who watches from every page as the story unfolds. Geser even makes good use of that meme of the moment--the cupcake--as her final page shows our heroine back at the bakery, a cupcake in hand, as she gazes happily in the show window at a wedding cake with a miniature of the happy couple in the park right on top. All's well that ends well in this little morality demi-drama,  with, as Publishers Weekly puts it, "an air of both excitement and romance."



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