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Me, All Alone, at the End of the World [Hardcover]

M.T. Anderson , Kevin Hawkes

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Book Description

Sept. 13 2005
From the celebrated picture-book team of M. T. Anderson and Kevin Hawkes comes a wistful, wondrous ode to the natural pleasures of peace and solitude.

The boy lives alone at the End of the World, hunting treasure with old maps, finding fossils, whistling tunes, playing ball by the drop. It's a peaceful, contemplative life, and the boy is content. Until, that is, a self-styled Professional Visionary arrives and puts up a sign: CONSTANTINE SHIMMER'S GALVANO-MAGICAL END OF THE WORLD TOURS. FUN ALL THE TIME! Soon men with machines come to pave a clearing for the inn and theme park, and the touring children seem nice, but still. . . . M. T. Anderson's lyric homage to simplicity and self-reliance is brought to life in arresting detail by the masterful artwork of Kevin Hawkes, creating a fantastical yet evocative world sure to resonate with everyone who enters it.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick (Sept. 13 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763615862
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763615864
  • Product Dimensions: 27 x 29 x 1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,031,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-4–Living at the end of the world with only his mule for company, an unnamed boy delights in the simple pleasures of treasure hunting and listening to the wind until the day his solitude is disrupted by the arrival of Constantine Shimmer, who brings noise and chaos in his wake. The vigorous old gentleman decides to conduct Galvano-Magical End of the World Tours, which promise Fun All the Time. He builds a hotel and an amusement park, turning the boy's serene retreat into a bustling tourist attraction. Three of the vacationing children befriend the youngster, and he enjoys the novelty and excitement of so much activity for a short time, but soon realizes that he misses the wind. With a quiet sense of purpose, he decides to leave. Bidding farewell to his friends, he flies away in a hot-air balloon to set up a new solitary home at the top of the world. The story, which addresses some thought-provoking, philosophical issues, is complemented by full-page watercolor and acrylics illustrations that resonate with old-fashioned charm, as well as smaller ink sketches on the text pages. Contemplative young readers will be enthusiastically carried along with the boy and his friends as they make their way through Mr. Shimmer's magical tourist destination, but, like the narrator, they will appreciate the quiet of their own homes as they reach the final page. Anderson and Hawkes, who collaborated on Handel, Who Knew What He Liked (Candlewick, 2001), have triumphed again with this imaginative fable.–Linda L. Walkins, Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Brighton, MA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 4-6. In this surreal picture book from the team behind Handel, Who Knew What He Liked (2001), elements of old-fashioned storybook design (inset paintings resembling color plates, delicate line drawings) play against complex themes most appropriate for readers in the middle grades and beyond. A "Professional Visionary" has converted a boy's home at the End of the World into a pleasure park: "Fun chock-a-block from your eyes to your teeth!" The transformation is viscerally charted in Hawkes'electric watercolor-and-acrylic paintings, in which scenes of mystical tranquility give way to dizzying views of soulless carnival amusements. Though initially drawn in, the narrator eventually tires of the frenetic lifestyle and departs for another secluded refuge. The familiar illustrator and format may draw very young browsers, but the longer, poetic text and allusive images are better cued to more experienced, articulate readers, who, with an adult's help, may discern echoes of Shelley's "Ozymandius" in images of ancient, crumbling monuments, and recognize nods to Toulouse-Lautrec in the luridly colored party scenes. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A storyline far more real than make-believe Jan. 8 2006
By Corinne H. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
The narrator of this picture book is a young boy who lives alone at the edge of a cliff. He leads an idyllic life in a paradise of his own creation, away from the demands of modern civilization. His time is his own and he spends it exploring, reading, and whistling to his mule. Enter the intruding Constantine Shimmer, Professional Visionary, who finds the place so wonderful, he wants to turn it into a tourist attraction. And he succeeds. The boy is temporarily caught up in the excitement, making new friends with youngsters who come to vacation away from the city. But eventually he realizes that he misses the solitude and the sound of the wind. He leaves to find it elsewhere.

Hawkes' fanciful illustrations depict the remote setting perfectly without singling out a specific identity. (Is it the Grand Canyon? Or Niagara Falls?) More details are revealed the more you study the pages, which is a marvelous characteristic for a children's book to have. Young readers will wish they could find such a hideout of their own.

This book came to me just as I learned that my grandparents' farm in eastern Pennsylvania was being targeted by a developer. Condos and a strip mall are likely to obliterate the territory I used as a playground to explore nature in the 1960s and 1970s. No child will ever again climb into that barn hayloft. I'll admit that I'm not as accepting and mature as Anderson's main character is. I'm not ready to let Civilization take over a property that's been in our family since 1915. I haven't yet decided what, if anything, I'll do to try to stop the process. Paging through this book, however, inspires me to do Something.

The Booklist reviewer found multi-leveled meanings in the text and pictures which passed me by. My interpretation is that this book could generate valuable discussion with readers of any age. Topics could range from the definition of home to environmental protection and the ills of urban sprawl. How long will we allow this kind of travesty to continue? "Me, All Alone, at the End of the World" is a thought-provoking book that should be put into the hands of most children and many adults. Let's send copies to our legislators as well, accompanied by recordings of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi." Anderson's book is a visualization of paving paradise to put up a parking lot.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical Family Favorite April 16 2010
By J. P. Nykanen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
My husband and I and our two year old son love this book; we first borrowed it from the library and had to get our own copy. The illustrations are full of detail and little surprises, but not so detailed that my son is uninterested, rather poring over the pages on his own. He also sits still for reading it aloud despite the length. The language has a subtle rhythm, a bit hypnotic, making it easy to read aloud. The reader is naturally pulled along as the pace of the story increases and then slows with the spacious exhalation at the end.

The story itself is deeply satisfying. While it may be read as a caution against commercialism and a frantic "go go go" life, I think it is more an example of balance and "knowing thyself". The boy is happy in his solitary life, but does feel the lure of companionship and enjoys new experiences with his friends. When he is burned out and returns to simple solitude he writes letters to his friends and plans to visit them "someday". We can dive into the world, whirling with new things, experiences, ideas, people, and then also give our true selves room to expand.

"There is a luxury in being quiet in the heart of chaos" Virginia Woolf
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I confess I feel this way about the Grand Canyon Skywalk May 9 2012
By M. Heiss - Published on Amazon.com
We are a family who prefers to vacation where there are no other people, or not many. We like the National Parks -- in the off season.

This book shows about how most normal people would react to someone building a Vegas casino right there in Zion National Park. Soon it is impossible to enjoy the beauty because of the raucous noise and people everywhere. What, natural beauty isn't enough for you, you need to be entertained, too? I confess I feel this way about the Grand Canyon Skywalk -- the giant glass sidewalk suspended over the Canyon and luring tourists hundreds of miles into the desert to pay rip-off prices.

Anyway, the main character is totally relatable. I, too, like to listen to the wind. It's time I had some time alone, eh?
5.0 out of 5 stars Brave New World for kids May 2 2013
By Clay Erickson - Published on Amazon.com
This book has such a great lesson. I have summed it up for my kids thusly: Let us get away from the loud fun and go and see the quiet fun.

Has anyone else ever read Brave New World? The author had to have read it because the lesson in it is the so similar. Unplug from the tech world and go see nature.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great and thoughtful read aloud for older kids too. Dec 7 2011
By C. Scott - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is one of those picture books that is really meant for older kids. It's thoughtful and funny and the illustrations are tremendously detailed and suit the book's quirkiness perfectly. It is really kind of a morality tale--about how we always want more and more and more and are never satisfied with what we have. As well as that plot, the beautiful natural place where the young boy lives at the end of the world is destroyed by the developer who just keeps building and building and building more and more and more. It's a bit lengthy for young kids, but oh, how they need to hear it. I've read it out loud to second through sixth graders; it's the kind of book that's a great discussion starter for all ages. And the illustrations really draw you in. Beautifully done.

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