cover image When We Married Gary

When We Married Gary

Anna Grossnickle Hines. Greenwillow Books, $15 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-688-14276-6

Hines (Rumble Thumble Boom!) draws on her own experiences for this insightful and finely articulated story, narrated by a girl who represents Hines's own daughter at the age of five. ""It used to be just Mama, Beth, and me,"" she says. But ""then we got Gary,"" and before long ""we"" marry Gary, a forest ranger who is sometimes impatient and sometimes playful, yet always loving. Building her story around the narrator's observation that she, her mother and sister are like a puzzle and ""Our daddy didn't fit with us, but Gary does,"" Hines creates an age-appropriate and genial portrait of a family. At book's end, snapshot-like illustrations provide an endearing update, marking the arrival of a new puppy and a new baby sister. With its slightly static compositions and underdeveloped figures, Hines's art is less accomplished than her text, but clearly just as personal. Ages 4-up. (Mar.)