WHEN I WAS NINE by James Stevenson


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A middle-aged man recalls a year of his childhood with evident pleasure but without heavy nostalgia. ""When I was nine, we lived on a street with big trees. I had a bicycle, and I knew where all the bumps were on the sidewalk."" The speaker remembers things a child might remember, but his sensibilities are adult (""No teacher was ever able to teach me arithmetic""). Like the text, the watercolor illustrations are spare and simple, as impressionistic as a Japanese ink painting; faces are featureless blurs; and clothing, automobiles and scenery are suggested with a few quick brushstrokes. Although it's 1939, the children look modern, in T-shirts and jeans. The family vacation that year is an auto trip west, where the spaces open up and long, hot horseback rides contrast with splashy rides down a small waterfall; a birthday is celebrated with the purchase of a cowboy hat. Back home, everything looks a little smaller--""but I was probably a little bigger."" This ordinary, eventful year should strike a responsive chord in young readers because its sights and sounds are as familiar to them as to their grandparents.

Pub Date: May 12th, 1986
Publisher: Greenwillow