cover image When Artie Was Little

When Artie Was Little

Harriet Berg Schwartz. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $15 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-679-83236-2

Schwartz (Backstage with Clawdio) limns an affectionate portrait of a friend named Artie, an elderly man who shares tales of his boyhood with neighborhood children. Their voices are heard here, urging Artie to tell them about the best food he ever ate, his favorite Christmas present ever, his closest childhood friend, the most exciting day of his life. Relayed in a third-person narrative, the anecdotal reminiscences are deeply personal and immediate, conveying the character of the personable young Artie while effectively invoking a slower, bygone era. Allen's (In Coal Country) accomplished, softly focused art draws from a palette of soothing pastel shades. Among his more memorable images are a wide-eyed Artie spying his brand-new pony tied to the Christmas tree, the pale pink dress in which Artie's younger sister is buried and the thrilled boy riding in an open-cockpit plane. Sepia-toned photos of the youthful Artie are reproduced on the endpapers, subtly reminding readers that some of the best stories are those from real life. Ages 4-9. (June)