Hughes (the Alfie books) once again uses small, everyday moments to craft a powerful story. To find work, Abel Grable must journey far and wide, leaving his wife and three boisterous boys. But when each job is over, he returns to his family and regales everyone with the fantastic adventures he's had. After one such trip, Abel decides to record some of his stories, moving an old table out into the garden to find some quiet in which to write. When Abel leaves again, his boys take comfort in both the stories he's left behind and those they create themselves, using their imaginations to convert his writing table into a campsite, a boat and then a machine for flying to the moon. Hughes's direct, unadorned prose gives both substance and depth to this wisp of a story line, as do her trademark watercolor illustrations, both beautiful and comforting in their sturdy, homey detail. The loneliness and longing created by a parent's absence are never explicitly mentioned; they quietly inform text and art as well as the story's interplay between fantasy and reality. Keeping sentimentality at bay, Hughes's restraint gives the characters' emotions unusual resonance. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/30/1999 Release date: 09/01/1999 Genre: Children's
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