Two sisters help with the week’s laundry in an era when doing the wash required much more than the quick turn of a knob.
“First we work and then we play,” says their mother. With a sigh, the girls cheerfully begin. Young readers might initially blanch. The dark-haired, light-skinned girls sort heaps of dirty clothes, haul buckets of water to the back porch (hot for the washer, cold for the rinse tubs), dump in soap, feed dripping garments through a wringer, rub their numb hands, and then hang the entire load on a line to dry with pins. Quickly, a fascination, appreciation, and perhaps even envy for this laborious weekly task will bloom inside modern children’s Oxy-cleaned chests. The girls find jokes, teasing, and closeness in their work alongside Mama—and just ahead of their stumbling baby brother. Will he help with the wash when he grows bigger? Cut-paper collages, in the soft colors of beloved faded clothes, bring dated domestic scenes into engaging immediacy with their clever crinkles, folds, layers, and gentle pencil work. Such carefully snipped and assembled artwork (wrinkled shirts, pleated dresses, tiny tea pots) conjures the magic found in the tenuousness of a precious paper-doll chain.
A labor of love itself, this picture book delivers readers to an early time and leaves them feeling as warm and sun-kissed as a sheet fresh off the line.