One man's life, from the time his farmer father brings his family to settle on an island in Maine till the end of his long, productive life, when he leaves his daughter and grandson--who are also content to live on the island. Cooney brings a rich texture to her beautifully shaped and cadenced story. Matthias, the youngest of 12 lively children, is the last to leave home (he spends years sailing the coast, trading commodities like bricks for the growing communities) and the only one to return. Unhackneyed incidents beautifully illuminate his character and surroundings: though told it can't be done, as a boy he tames a gull (called Toad: too young to fly, it hops) that gets seasick when taken fishing; when "the hens ain't laying," he gets eggs for the family from the plentiful sea birds. In old age, Matthias isn't tempted to sell his valuable property to the rich folks "from away," although he does sell them vegetables. And when his dory goes down in rough seas, his family and neighbors (new and old) can truly say, "A good man. . .A good life." Cooney's serene illustrations for this tribute to self-reliance and an ideal American life are as lovely as the ones for Miss Rurnphius, and as evocative of their setting as those in Ox-Cart Man. Who could fail to love this clean world where luminous water meets luminous sky, where each delicately rendered detail is vibrant with its Own reality and essential to an elegant composition? Outstanding.