cover image The Lost Boy’s Gift

The Lost Boy’s Gift

Kimberly Willis Holt. Holt/Ottaviano, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-62779-326-1

In this quiet tale of community and new friendship by Holt (Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel), nine-year-old Daniel and his mother move across the county to While-a-Way Lane following his parents’ divorce. Offbeat residents populate their new street: a “hopscotching mailman,” a pianist-turned-secret-saxophonist, and solitary garden enthusiast Tilda Butters, who can talk to animals. Guarded Daniel blames his mother for the move and is angry with his father for not visiting; he becomes focused on securing his dad’s attendance at his school production of Peter Pan. Though irritated by the energetic boy’s initial visit, Tilda understands feeling abandoned, and she tries to remember that “there is good in everyone” as their lives become intertwined. However, their relationship feels sudden and undeveloped, as does the book’s thesis that “everyone has a special gift”—beyond “the art of noticing,” few characters are explicitly shown to have one. Touches of the fantastic (chatty snakes, sympathetic fireflies) augment accessible, straightforward prose, which permeates the neighborhood personalities’ lives and motivations, lending this novel a gently bustling yet intimate atmosphere. Ages 8–14. [em](Apr.) [/em]