Kevin C. Pyle, Author . Holt $13.95 (96p) ISBN 978-0-8050-7998-2

Pyle (Lab U.S.A. ) uses the graphic novel format to powerful effect as he explores a boy's coming of age. Dean Tollridge and his friends love "playing army," running missions through the woods behind their houses and combating imaginary Nazis. But reality invades the thoughtful boy's fantasy milieu (an accidental library discovery of what the Holocaust really looked like; a lengthy and harrowing encounter with a homeless vet) and suddenly playtime takes on an unwelcome gravity. Pyle uses color as a brilliant storytelling tool: blues and browns for the real world, camouflage greens and browns for make-believe war scenes, and vivid flashes of full color in moments of strong emotion. What is remarkable is how much of the story lives in the pictures that are not drawn, the words that are not said. From a book of relatively few pages and minimal dialogue emerges a very robust set of characters, right down to the conflicted parents whose concern for their child unfolds in minimalist conversations of doubt and best intentions. This is a very smart and humane graphic novel that, by the sheer force of its narrow focus, resonates with a broad emotional range. Ages 9-12. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/09/2007
Release date: 04/01/2007
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 1 pages - 978-1-4287-3845-4
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