cover image The Tram to Bondi Beach

The Tram to Bondi Beach

Elizabeth Hathorn. Kane/Miller Book Publishers, $12.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-916291-20-4

Pluck wins the day in this tale from Australia. Kieran watches Saxon, the paper boy, clamber expertly along the sides of the tram, making change and offering papers to customers speedily, before the tram moves on to the next stop. When he turns nine, Kieran, too, sells papers, but Saxon warns him away from the tram work, firmly claiming his territory. But Kieran soon establishes his competence and his courage in one stunning episode. When it is over, Kieran has a new paper route, but finds himself already planning much grander schemes. Hathorn's story, set in a bygone era, is a simple tale of a child's longing for those things just beyond his reach, and of the ways that dreams enliven everyday events. Vivas imbues her vistas with whimsical watercolors; in rusty browns and coppery shades, she warmly conveys the bustle of a city by the sea, and the tram that is its lifeline. Her characters seem to defy the space constraints of a square page: they reach out to readers, or squabble and taunt one another, filling up backgrounds with activities and inviting a closer look. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)