THE GAWGON AND THE BOY by Lloyd Alexander

THE GAWGON AND THE BOY

Age Range: 10 - 14

KIRKUS REVIEW

A sweet tale of imagination and intergenerational friendship on the cusp of the Depression. Eleven-year-old David, recovering from a severe bout of pneumonia, rejoices in the doctor’s advice that he not return to school—until, that is, “Aunt” Annie, a true battleaxe, volunteers to tutor him. But David, a dreamy boy who loves to make up stories of derring-do (punctuating the text throughout and featuring himself), soon learns that The Gawgon’s (“Gorgon”) methodologies are perfect for him, as she feeds him an unconventional education hinging on stories that become further fuel for his imagination (she supplies the smile for a frustrated Leonardo’s greatest work, among other feats). This is a departure for master fantasist Alexander (How the Cat Swallowed Thunder, 2000, etc.), who here eschews a grand canvas in favor of close and affectionate portraits of the many quirky characters in David’s life: his father, who plots to sell bottled water from the River Jordan (generously diluted with tap water) when his business fails; Uncle Eustace, the tombstone salesman; the doomsaying Aunt Rosie, one of whose frequent malapropisms gives rise to The Gawgon’s nickname. At the center of this web of loving relationships is the one that grows between David and The Gawgon, the memory of which supports David after her death. While his family certainly feels the effects of the stock-market crash, David himself is largely insulated from it both by the strength of his relationships and by his ability to find a story in just about anything. Laced with gentle humor and sustained by David’s voice (“I would have begged to be flogged, disemboweled, and forced to drink molten lead rather than returned to classes. I had some reluctance about being educated”)—a quietly zany tribute to the power of stories. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-525-46677-0
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2001




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