Mending a broken friendship isn't always easy, but children can learn how to do it. In ''Clancy's Coat,'' Eve Bunting uses a tale of two grown men, whose friendship is severed over a petty incident, to show how the mending takes place.
A few years back, it seems, Tippitt's cow wandered into Clancy's vegetable garden and ruined it. From that day each man refused to talk to the other.
Tippitt, a tailor, is visited by Clancy after years of silence. Clancy needs his old coat ''turned.'' ''What I need is for you to make the inside be the outside and the outside be the inside, if you get my meaning,'' explains Clancy.
The coat becomes the medium through which these men grow together again. Tippitt, although willing to mend the coat, uses it in various ways around his farm, delaying its repair. On one occasion, the cow needs warming, so Tippitt grabs the coat. Another time, his hen needs a soft place to lay her eggs, and again the coat is used. Although Tippitt keeps promising that he'll have the coat ready in a week's time, he never gets it done.
In the meantime, Clancy frequently stops by to check on his coat. Tippitt, wanting to pacify Clancy, begins inviting him to some tea, then some tea and bread, then a full dinner. By the end of the book, although the coat is still not mended, the men's friendship nearly is.
This simple Irish tale, ably illustrated by Lorinda Bryan Cauley, can help young children see that pride has to give way before a broken friendship can mend.