cover image Garmann's Street

Garmann's Street

Stian Hole, Author . Eerdmans $16.99 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8028-5357

This sequel to Garmann's Summer traverses equally inventive, if unsettling, territory. A bully named Roy, who is “Congress, God, the basketball team's top scorer, and first in everything” pressures Garmann to light a match, which starts a fire in the yard of a scary, eccentric neighbor, known as the “Stamp Man.” The fire is put out, and an odd friendship grows between Garmann and the man, who shares with the boy his stamp collection and unconventional trains of thought. “If you stretch out your intestines, they will be over twenty-five feet long,” he says, to which Garmann replies, “There are 440 steps to school, 230 days until summer vacation... and I am always last to be picked when we make teams at recess time.” Such revealing, unexpected connections also occur in the wild juxtaposition of illustrations and photos, including oversize heads, stamp cancellations, and a rainstorm comprising people in parachutes. With its dark undercurrents and startlingly original style, this book may not have broad appeal. But for children aware that “Life is never completely safe,” as Garmann's father says, it will be reassuring to see the help a like-minded companion can offer. Ages 6–10. (Apr.)