An old man and his granddaughter spend a happy summer together working in his garden in rural Georgia, but when she and her mother return the next year he's failing so much that they take him home to Baltimore; there he becomes more and more despondent. Hoping to cheer him, the girl learns to play the tunes he used to play on a harmonica; they are both reminded of the happier times when the sassy old mockingbird sang from the fence, and they share a moment of joy. It's good to have cartoonist Stevenson's gifted pen and luminous watercolors applied to a serious theme, in contrast to his frequent slapstick picture books. He gives the nameless characters universality rather than individuality, wonderfully evoking the burgeoning Georgia summer and the bleakness of a city apartment where there's nothing for an old man to do. A gentle mood piece to be enjoyed soon after easy readers.