cover image The Jukebox Man

The Jukebox Man

Jacqueline K. Ogburn. Dial Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1429-8

Ogburn (The Reptile Ball) reminisces about the jukebox days of the 1950s through a girl's treasured Saturday spent with her grandfather. Donna's Poppaw is ""a jukebox man. He had jukeboxes in dozens of diners and restaurants, fish camps and truck stops all over the state."" The girl accompanies her grandfather on his rounds as he changes each of his Wurlitzer's selections of 45s and empties the coins into bags to divvy up with the proprietor of each business. The kind man gives Donna her own copy of her favorite record, ""Blue Suede Shoes,"" and the narrative builds as she anticipates arriving home to play it. In a climactic scene, the vinyl disk falls to the floor and is crushed ""into slivers,"" but Poppaw simply selects the song from a nearby jukebox and all is abruptly and unsatisfyingly resolved. Painting in oils on paper, Ransome (Uncle Jed's Barbershop) uses a convincing 1950s palette to capture a bygone era. However, some of the artist's renderings of Donna and Poppaw are uneven and the illustrations only hint at the affection between the two. Readers may well feel they never get to see the bond between granddaughter and grandfather; the book relies on a nostalgia factor that may be lost on children unfamiliar with Elvis Presley. Ages 4-8. (May)