Monday, May 30, 2011

The TTLG 2011 Picture Book Celebration: Book one hundred and fifty

I live in a small quiet town where the pace of life is slow, and where many people are happy to enjoy simple pleasures. When I visit big cities I usually tire of the pace, the noise, and the hubbub very quickly, and I am glad to come home again.

In today's picture book, you will meet a young boy who discovers that change and 'progress' is not always a good thing.

M.T. Anderson
Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Picture Book
Ages 6 and up
Candlewick Press, 2005, 076361586-2
   A boy lives alone at the End of the World, and though he is by himself (except for the mule) and though he has to eat gristle and hardtack, he is content with his life, putting together fossils, whistling, and playing with a ball. Then everything changes; a strange looking man called Constantine Shimmer arrives and he starts up a touring business. Soon the boy’s world is full of activity, people, and machines. Many come to see The End of the World, guided by Mr. Shimmer, and they also come to see the boy who lives there.
   Before he quite knows what he is doing the boy begins to work as a guide, seduced by the charm of meeting other children. The boy shows the newcomers all his favorite places and pastimes and they love it all. They love it so much that when Mr. Shimmer’s Inn at the End of the World is built and ready, they come back to The End of the World again and again.
   The boy has so much fun with his new friends and they do many wonderful things together including hang gliding, skating, and riding a roller-coaster. Naturally enough the boy has the time of his life, but he begins to notice that all of Mr. Shimmer’s buildings and businesses are changing the End of the World. Now is it a place of “More fun! More Fun!” where solitude is impossible, where one cannot think, and where peace is gone.
   The boy discovers something that many readers will find interesting and surprising – that one does not need a great deal of ‘stuff,’ nor does one need a lot of company, to be happy. There is a lot to be said for solitude, quiet, and simplicity.
   Beautifully illustrated and written with clarity and perception, this is a very special picture book that has a message for readers of all ages.

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