The cycle of generations in an African village: A little boy who enjoys a toothless old man's stories asks, ""Were you ever a little boy?"" and is incredulous when he's told that ""Inside this old, old man...lives a very little boy."" Tune passes, and he lives to give his own grandson the same answer to the same question, and hear him respond with the same laughter. The story's universality is reinforced by its sparing use of detail--a technique echoed in Shaffer's powerful illustrations, presenting her sensitively portrayed characters against simple backdrops of warm earth, pale sky, and an occasional hut. Fine debuts for both author and artist.