Me, All Alone, at the End of the World Hardcover – Sep 13 2005
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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.
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
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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
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?
Told in first person and illustrated by delightful watercolor paintings and pen line art, this book carries a subtle warning to conserve our wild places because simple enjoyments are worth their weight in gold.
review by author/illustrator of Watchers, and illustrator of Rabbit's Song by S.J. Tucker
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