cover image The Tinker of Salt Cove

The Tinker of Salt Cove

Susan Hand Shetterly. Tilbury House Publishers, $13.95 (57pp) ISBN 978-0-88448-080-8

This slim volume is an oddity: based on a true story about an itinerant 19th-century English tinker who settled in a Maine coastal village, it reads more like an extended short story than the novel it's purported to be. The tale unfolds through the eyes of young Maude True, who, like other residents of Salt Cove, is curious about the lonely tinker who lives under a dory and reads Keats. Unfortunately, his mysterious past is never explained and readers are left puzzled. Although Shetterly evokes a strong sense of place through her--for the most part--lyrical language, the underdeveloped characters and inconclusive ending ultimately cause the story to falter. Imbued with a darkly dramatic feeling, Beckman's impressive woodcuts are nicely synchronistic with the period. Ages 10-up. (June)