Monday, September 5, 2011
The Boys, by Jeff Newman. Simon & Schuster, 2010. $19.99 ages
This book is remarkable without having to breathe so much as a word!
No matter who we are, and how gregariouos, I would venture to say that each of us has some small twinge of doubt when faced with a life event that assures big changes. Such is the case for this young man!
Adept illustrators offer up story in the front matter of their books. And Jeff Newman is incredibly adept...believe me! If you haven't seen his work, don't leave this page without a Google search for his previous book, Hippo! No, Rhino! and his newest, Hand Book.
On the cover page, an observant child will notice the blue truck as it moves past buildings on its way to the copyright page where we see it being unloaded by a young boy and his dad. The tow-headed youngster is glum as he carries a cardboard box which houses a baseball bat.
The only word on the following page is Tuesday. We watch as a baseball-capped boy ties his runners, and surrounded by baseball paraphernalia, in preparation for a visit to the nearby park. He watches from afar as the ballgame between the neighborhood children proceeeds. If we look carefully, we will note a bench to the side and settled by four men. Downhearted, he makes his way to the bench. There is so much to see there...each of the four old codgers who share that bench are distinctive. I had stories in my head about them the moment I met them.
On Wednesday, he packs up his equipment and takes a set of books and returns to the bench, with a personal look quite different from the previous day. Now, there are five 'boys' on the bench...and the men show concern for their newest member. Thursday brings forth even more noticeable change and an ability to attract the pigeons. On Friday, he's alone, but for an errant missile.
A quick glance behind him and he's in for a big surprise! Saturday...the same. He is becoming troubled, and upset! No one seems to mind his mood. The evidence is strong for what the old men are trying to do, and he takes the bait. He wows them with his expertise and gathers up the confidence to make another foray into the neighborhood ball game.
There is so much I could tell you about this book...the art, the characters, the many details that lead us to pore over it again...and then again. Will you please believe me if I tell you that it is BRILLIANT? Now, go and check it out for yourself.