cover image One Boy Watching

One Boy Watching

Grant Snider. Chronicle, $17.99 (60p) ISBN 978-1-79721-088-9

A long school bus trip through farmland forms the scaffolding of this counting meditation by Snider (Blue Floats Away), in which a light-brown-skinned boy wearing a magenta hoodie, a bus’s first passenger of the day, boards the vehicle and gazes out the window. Simple, rhythmic lines place readers in the here and now: “Four rusty cars./ Seven wild sunflowers.” Sunrise colors illuminate colored pencil and marker spreads—the bus’s warm orange-yellow, its interior’s cool blue shadows, and the rose and lemon of the dawn breaking over barns and pastures. Stop by stop, the bus picks up pupils of various skin tones in a regimen they all seem to know. Small, unexpected incidents provide drama (“One big BUMP!/ All the kids in back JUMP!”), while arrival in town is marked by specific landmarks (“Two water towers. One grain elevator”). They’re the compass points of the child’s internal landscape, and as the school day ends, he envisions seeing them on the trip home. The sanctuary of unchanging routine allows the boy to devote attention to the beauty of the ordinary world across space and time—something that Snider represents as both worthwhile and deeply human. Ages 3–5. Agent: Judy Hansen, Hansen Literary. (June)