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NEVILLE by Norton Juster


by Norton Juster & illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Pub Date: Oct. 25th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-375-86765-1
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

A little boy, bereft over moving, makes strides toward feeling at home in his new neighborhood.

With uniform houses and patches of lawn, the community depicted evokes Levittown. Karas’ mixed-media art employs a bleak, gray palette for the setting, befitting the boy’s forlorn feelings. His mother suggests, “Maybe you’d like to take a little walk down the block. You might even meet someone.” Though unenthusiastic, he “slowly shuffle[s] away.” When he stops and (rather inexplicably) calls out, “Neville,” another child hears him, and then another and another, and they all join in. But who is Neville? “Is he new?” one child asks. “Are you a friend of his?” adds another. “His best friend, I guess,” he responds. The children wander off, leaving the boy hopeful after making this foray into joining their community. His homecoming is alight with colors that Karas slowly incorporated into prior illustrations, and when his mother tucks him in, she whispers, “Good night, Neville…” Readers then can hope that when the neighborhood children discover that the boy himself is Neville, they will embrace him as surely as they did his search.

A fine treatment of a tried-and-true theme. (Picture book 4-6)