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ROBERTO WALKS HOME by Janice N. Harrington


by Janice N. Harrington & illustrated by Jody Wheeler

Age Range: 6 - 8

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-670-06316-1
Publisher: Viking

“Based on characters created by Ezra Jack Keats”—whose name is the only one on the front cover and spine—this homage pairs a new urban tale with illustrations that draw on Keats’s palette and collage style to create a similar look. Having waited in vain for big brother Miguel to collect him after school for a promised game of hoops, Roberto scuffs his way home for some angry drawing and dreaming. Wheeler creates a familiar setting for figures that look a little more rounded than their originals but are instantly recognizable, and Roberto’s emotional tempest receives an authentically low-key depiction. Unlike Keats, however, Harrington’s not content to let the pictures do the talking. Her poetic touches, though lovely, unnecessarily decorate the spare text and render his timeless inner-city neighborhood explicitly a fearsome place (“He walked past the long dark alley soured with grease and garbage”). The brotherly reconciliation at the end aptly caps this more-or-less respectful return to Keats’s timeless characters. (Picture book. 6-8)