Thursday, April 5, 2012
The young protagonist from Norton Juster's latest picture book is similarly stressed. He didn't want to move to a new house and a new neighborhood, leaving behind familiar places and faces, not to mention all his friends. On moving day we find him bereft until his mother nudges his mopey self and insists he take a walk in his new neighborhood. He strolls down the deserted block filled with seemingly identical suburban boxes and then suddenly, inexplicably, begins to shout the name Neville. His cries summon the neighborhood kids, all interested in the mysterious Neville. Before long, the block is filled with kids shouting for Neville. Evening arrives and, still no Neville in sight, the kids ask the boy if he'll be back the following day. He will, of course, and returns to his own home with lighter footsteps. It isn't until the final page that the Neville's identity is revealed, which, to a careful reader, will not be much of a surprise.
An excellent choice for children who have recently moved--or anyone interested in making friends, Neville is a delight. Juster's text strikes just the right tone and Karas's cartoonlike illustrations subtly reflect the boy's changing emotions. And if you spot a moving van unloading, don't be surprised if you hear shouts of "Neville" soon after. I may give it a try myself. "Neville!"
by Norton Juster
illustrations by G. Brian Karas
Schwartz & Wade, 32 pages
Published: October 2011