cover image UNDER THE BIG SKY


Trevor Romain, UNDER THE BIG SKYTrevor Romai. , $14.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-06-029494-6

An old man promises his entire fortune to his grandson on one condition: "You must find the secret of life and bring it back to me." The boy's search turns into a global quest that takes him "eleven years, twelve days, twenty-two minutes and thirty-six seconds" and along the way he encounters a host of aphorism-spouting people and things. A fence, for example, tells him, "The secret of life is not one thing.... Take me, for example. Each post means nothing until it is joined to make a long, winding fence. A fence that goes all over the place but stays together." But nothing seems to illuminate the proverbial light bulb over his head and, now a young man, he returns to his grandfather convinced that he has failed. Au contraire, says the old man: "Your journey itself was the secret of life." He has another revelation in store as well: the promised riches are not money or material goods, but rather everything "under the big sky" (the young man's reaction to this switcheroo goes unrecorded). Romain's (The Boy Who Swallowed a Rainbow) squiggly but assured watercolor-and-ink cartoons, one or two vignettes per floating white spread, make for a handsome visual presentation. This is not a book for children, however. It may have use as a graduation gift, but delivers a heavy-handed message. All ages. (Apr.)