That’s Sheila. She’s rolling her eyes at the way her neighbors live. Sheila’s neighbors don’t use a clothes dryer. They hang laundry on the line instead. They don’t drive to the library. They ride their bikes instead. Sheila’s neighbors don’t even throw away their used tea bags. They save them for the garden worms instead. “Weird,” says Sheila.
But there’s something appealing about Sheila’s neighbors’ lifestyle, and even Sheila can’t miss how happy, healthy and contented they are. By the end of the book, Sheila has been won over, and of course, we—reading the book—have been won over long before that.
They’re wonderful, Sheila’s neighbors—so friendly, so green. It’s just fun to spend time with them in their garden full of flowers and veggies, their home full of pets and plants and crafting materials.
They remind me of several families I know—in real life and in books.
Sheila’s neighbors would probably get along great with the family in A Child’s Calendar by John Updike, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. Hyman’s illustrations are inspired by her own family–her daughter, son-in-law and grandsons, in her New England farmhouse (which is likewise filled with pets and plants and crafting materials.)