Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Matt Phelan
$22.99, Hardcover
Candlewick, 2013

Genre: Realistic, Historical, Graphic Novel

Age: 9+

Description: Henry lives in boring old Muskegon, Michigan, where nothing ever seems to happen. However, in neighboring Bluffton the summer of 1908 is proving to be an eventful one. A vaudeville troops and circus have come to the town to relax. It is in town that Henry meets a young boy named Buster Keaton, an actor. The boys quickly become friends as each covets what the other has—Henry wishes he had an exciting life like Buster and Buster wishes for a normal childhood full of boyish pastimes such as baseball and fishing. Will the boys ever realize their dreams?

Opinion: Matt Phelan is an excellent artist. However, I don’t think this book hits its mark. I think I would have been more impressed with it had the ARC been in color. Since it is watercolor paintings the black and white images sometimes are hard to distinguish. The story moves very quickly (one could really read it in 10 minutes tops) and has a serene feel to it. However, I don’t know of any teens nowadays who would know who Buster Keaton is or what vaudeville was. I only happen to know it myself because of my thesis which involves being familiar with American history (and vaudeville is one topic I hate!). I don’t really know what teen would be interested in this story. It seems like it would be boring to younger children and tweens and the story wouldn’t appeal to most readers. It seems like a better topic for adults. The few slightly funny moments (there is some “potty” humor) don’t make up for the slow pace and boring plot.    

Thanks to Candlewick for the ARC for the YALSA YA Galley Group!

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