The Boys by Jeff Newman

I have to be honest and admit that I haven’t been living up to my children’s librarian side of this blog much this year. I’ve barely posted about any of the books I’ve read, and I haven’t even been reading as much. I’ve focused a lot on children’s novels that I’ve missed over the years. And life has been getting in the way a lot.

But there are some great books out there that I want to spread the word about. The Boys by Jeff Newman is one of them. I read it this summer, and it is quite possibly my favorite children’s book of the year, and now that the Newbery and Caldecott predictions have started in earnest I thought I should tell you about it.

A very shy young boy, new to his neighborhood, goes to the playground to meet other kids and play baseball. But when they don’t notice him, he loses his courage and sits on a park bench next to 4 old timers. They definitely notice him. Over the next few days, he tries to fit in with the old timers until they take steps to build his courage back up.

The incredible thing about this is that the story is wordless. Except for the days of the week on each page, all of the emotion and action is told entirely through images. I am a HUGE fan of wordless books, I think the art of telling a story quietly is as powerful (if not more so) than the art of telling it with big fonts and funny phrases. And as a wordless book, this story WORKS. Big time. I actually teared up at the end, and so much about this story reminded me of my own childhood in a town with lots of parks and lots of old timers looking out for us. It is made out of charm, and Jeff Newman’s slightly retro ink and color illustrations are winning and perfect. You’ve got to try this one.

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