Saturday, November 28, 2009
The Retired Kid, written and illustrated by Jon Agee. Hyperion, HB Fenn, 2008. $18.99 ages 5 and up
"It's hard work being a kid. First of all, there's school. Then there's soccer practice, violin class, voice lessons, walking Sparky, babysitting your little sister, not to mention having to eat your vegetables."
That revelation leads Brian to make a momentous decision about his life. He's going to retire. His first eight years have been great but he wants off the merry-go-round!
I have loved Jon Agee’s work since seeing and reading The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau (Farrar, 1990) when sharing great books with my kids at school. The title for this one is perfect...it attracts an audience immediately and makes us all wonder about a kid who retires. Just reading it the first time was a charming experience but it was in repeated readings that I started to notice all that this accomplished artist has included in his illustrations that enhance his story. Hidden messages abound and you will not be disappointed to look at it again and again. You know just the kid that Jon Agee is describing. He is finding all the expectations made of him are tiring and trying. It's tough to live in his skin. Does he have time for doing what he loves to do? He always seems to be doing what makes others happy.
He makes a choice that he thinks will work for him and off he goes to the retirement home to begin this new phase in his life. He is welcomed with open arms and an array of characters who each have their own particular eccentricities. I'm sure you will recognize some of them. The pace is perfect, changing according to the demands of story and Jon Agee shows, once again, his brilliant strength in choosing the perfect words to tell it. The idea is not new, but fresh. It is worth a very long look.
I think it would be a perfect gift for an overburdened child, or a friend who is retiring.