cover image The Boys

The Boys

Jeff Newman. Simon & Schuster, $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-1-4169-5012-7

Newman’s story opens with a picture of a moving van and one piece of information: Tuesday. That day, a blond boy stares out at a city park where kids play baseball and four elderly men share a bench. Drooping his head and dragging a bat, the boy approaches the bench and plops down. Wednesday, the boy leaves his sports gear behind and feeds the pigeons. The old men shrug. Thursday, the boy wears retiree-style plaid pants. The men eye each other. That weekend, the boy arrives to an empty bench: his pals are on the playground, showing him, to hilarious effect, how the business of being a kid is conducted—namely riding bikes and playing on the jungle gym. A game of baseball with the men finally gives the boy confidence to approach people his own age. Employing sly visual humor, Newman (Hippo! No, Rhino ) presents the narrative in sketchy, retro-flavored gouache brushstrokes on a white background. This is a quirky book, but sensitive readers will appreciate the child’s shyness and the men’s efforts to help him remember what it means to be a kid. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)