Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Author: Matt Phelan
Info: Candlewick Press, copyright 2013, 240 pages
In the summer of 1908, in Muskegon, Michigan, a visiting troupe of vaudeville performers is about the most exciting thing since baseball. They’re summering in nearby Bluffton, so Henry has a few months to ogle the elephant and the zebra, the tightrope walkers and — lo and behold — a slapstick actor his own age named Buster Keaton. The show folk say Buster is indestructible; his father throws him around as part of the act and the audience roars, while Buster never cracks a smile. Henry longs to learn to take a fall like Buster, "the human mop," but Buster just wants to play ball with Henry and his friends. With signature nostalgia, Scott O’Dell Award–winning graphic novelist Matt Phelan visualizes a bygone era with lustrous color, dynamic lines, and flawless dramatic pacing.
I wish I could go back to the days when my summers were free. I look fondly on the times when my days were my own. I could explore, play games, get into good-natured mischief from dusk until dawn.
Henry has an epic summer. Not only does he get to run around his small town to his heart's content, he also gets to hang out with a troupe of performers, from comedians to acrobats, riding elephants and causing trouble. It just so happens that one of the performers is the young and talented Buster Keaton. He was infamous even at a young age, and his carefree personality immediately draws Henry in the summer they first arrive. It's just that things aren't quite the same when they leave...
The artwork is fantastic, transporting you back in time to a small town and the joys of summer. The water color approach was definitely pleasing to the eye, and the historical elements really pulled the whole story together. This is a great read for kids and adults.