cover image The Old, Old Man and the Very Little Boy

The Old, Old Man and the Very Little Boy

Kristine L. Franklin. Atheneum Books, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-689-31735-4

In this promising debut for author and artist, an African boy loves to listen to the village elder's stories, but cannot comprehend his talk of the very little boy who still lives within the old man. When enough seasons pass, however, the boy, long grown, begins to speak of the inner youthfulness that now underlies his own old age. Franklin summons evocative images to chronicle the links between the generations and the bittersweet passage of time. The old man's face is as brown and wrinkled as the deep garden soil and his toes spread like stubby fingers from decades of walking barefoot, as around and around the seasons danced. With its impressive dignity, this prose suggests the fullness of experience that is possible with a strong conneetion to both past and future, and a gracious acceptance of one's changing place within them. Shaffer's lustrous oils give rich life to this affecting vignette-by focusing on her characters rather than on their surroundings, her spare yet precise earth-toned portraits allow the story's emotionality to emerge. Ages 4-6. (Sept.)