Who Is My Neighbor-Umbrella Bo

Michael Grejniec, Author Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers $8.99 (1p) ISBN 978-0-679-85801-0
A boy's dreary world is transformed when he meets his unusual neighbor in this picture-book fantasy. Young Phil describes life on the edge of town, where the sky is always cloudy and the streets are always gray. He can't help being curious about the mysterious man in the apartment upstairs. Phil watches him leave the building in the morning and return in the evening, but he never sees the man's face. One day the electricity fails, and Phil's mother sends him to borrow candles from the shadowy man. Inside the strange apartment, Phil is treated to a mind-bending magic-trick/circus extravaganza. Grejniec's (Good Morning, Good Night; What Do You Like?) short sentences and matter-of-fact tone aptly mimic a child's storytelling style. However, Phil's adventure flags because of the text's mixture of moods. An imaginative flight of fancy on one level, the story also contains some potentially disturbing undercurrents (e.g., encountering strangers alone in the dark). A happy ending helps resolve these issues, although it is difficult to distinguish between real and make-believe here. Grejniec's richly textured watercolors have the look of a mixed-media collage, and his dense, energetic colors pop right off the black-and-white backgrounds. The menagerie of lions, rabbits and spotted horses vaulting through the blackness is especially eye-catching. Ages 3-7. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/04/1994
Release date: 07/01/1994
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FORMATS
Hardcover - 978-0-679-95801-7
Hardcover - 978-0-517-16522-5
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