PART-TIME BOY by Elizabeth T. Billington


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Ten-year-old Jamie rarely speaks, is branded a ""loner"" by his teacher, and is teased by his two older brothers. He lives in his own world, which seems okay to him, but that world is enlarged considerably when he meets Mattie, a young woman who works at the natural science center and keeps all sorts of ""part-time"" animals around her place. (They're really on vacation from the museum.) It's Jamie's idea to be Mattie's ""part-time boy"" when she goes off to her cabin for the summer. While there, he becomes part-time friends with a farm boy his age, also quite silent; he observes a lonely porcupine's devotion to Mattie's cat Sukie; and he learns digging and soccer from Mattie's archaeologist friend Mike. The story is properly low-keyed, but obvious and thin; and if Billington succeeds in reassuring other loners, she might lose them by going too far in the ending: On Jamie's return home he impresses the older boys with his soccer kick and thereby wins a place in their game. (Earlier, Jamie's father had defended him to his worried mother because he seemed happy enough as he was; now it seems that a place on the team really is the measure of success.)

Pub Date: March 15th, 1980
Publisher: Warne