I picked this one up after it made Calling Caldecott’s mock ballot list, and I’m glad I did. It’s one of those stories where the text tells the story but the illustrations convey the mood. There’s a fun reveal at the end for readers who miss the clues. I for one was coming up with all kinds of more outrageous explanations for why the boy was shouting “Neville!” and of course had to read it through again once I got to the end.
Plus, a second read makes you notice the details in the illustrations that tell the story in their own way. On the first page, the boy and his belongings are in color while the houses an street are sepia-toned. As soon as the other boy joins him on the corner, the grass becomes greener, and by the time all the kids are gathered around the colors are bright and vivid. As they head home, all the houses have gained personality and color. It’s a subtle but effective technique.
I don’t often review picture books, but it’s refreshing to sit down and think about one critically – especially because they’re so easy to reread!