The thoughts and opinions of Nathaniel B. Free, who--like Clifton's Everett Anderson--is a child of deep, genuine feelings and a penetrating eye. Nathaniel's ruminations, like Everett's, are delivered in poetic vignettes (several have appeared previously in magazines); whether written in the cadences of rap, with the structure of a blues song (an essay on which is appended), or in some freer rhythm, all lend themselves to reading aloud and to easy comprehension Nathaniel remembers making faces, and friends, with a girl in kindergarten; watching Grandma play ""the bones""; and his feelings of loss at Mama's death a year ago. lie's also wise beyond his years, thinking about how stupid he is to get into a fight and how, even when he's old and gray, he still won't know everything. Gilchrist's large, soft, charcoal illustrations expertly capture Nathaniel's expressions in a variety of moods and situations; as in her recent work for Lessie Jones Little's Children of Long Ago, the slight mistiness adds a touch of romanticism.