Storyteller Harley embodies a child's fears with humor and sympathy.
Justin has lost his favorite hat, the one his grandmother made for him. His mother pesters him to find it before grandmother visits on the weekend. After an exhaustive search, the last place to look is the dreaded Lost and Found. Justin’s friend Devaun already lost his baseball jacket and was too afraid to go see Mr. Rumkowsky, the ancient custodian and keeper of the massive pile of lost belongings. With stifling tension, Harley has found the perfect emotional pitch to explore such universal childhood fears as visiting mysterious corners of the school or facing a terrifying adult. This story captures the essence of a brave child who confronts Authority. Not surprisingly, Mr. Rumkowsky is much kinder than he looks, but his gigantic box harbors much that is unsuspected. Harley’s view of the elementary-school world succeeds in making Justin's fanciful experience palpably real. Gustavson enhances the dramatic mood with realistic double-page spreads that artfully use a child's-eye perspective. The word “CAUTION” blazes from a cleaning bucket. There are endless locks on the janitor’s door. Leaves scatter everywhere, just like a young boy’s belongings.
Within this child’s view of the world, full of questions and pressure and misunderstanding, wisdom comes—sometimes from the unlikeliest places. (Picture book. 5-9)