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The strange, silent little boy who hung around Julia's House (1975) has his say here, and though we would have thought him older than six (and would here too, from some of his observations), we're easily drawn into his very individual, often mistaken view of things. In Elvis and His Secret, which came first in Sweden, Elvis has all he can do simply to justify his separate identity. First, he's not at all like his namesake, ""the real ELVIS,"" his mother's ""idol,"" and what's more, Mom says he's here as a punishment for her sins. Dad's displeased because he can't learn soccer, and even Elvis' clothing once belonged to his dead uncle Johan, on whose birthday Grandma doles them out. But by the end it's clear even to Elvis that he is very much his own person, and if the appearance and support of Peter, Julia's Night Daddy, is a bit fortuitous (as is the second rescue, this time from vandals, of Julia's now abandoned house), this sober little boy who can't seem to do anything right, and whose lonely but purposive behavior is so often misunderstood, is for real. In Elvis and His Friends, Elvis starts to school--though, after wetting his pants the first day, he drops out for a while until it's time to ""take another chance""--and there he meets Annalisa, who brings him home and introduces, him to Old Granny, who thinks on Elvis' wavelength, and to a very different, casual kind of household of which Elvis' mother strongly disapproves. The misunderstandings with Mom continue, but at last, at a family Christmas celebration, he learns how to win her with cuteness: ""Since he obviously couldn't be himself at home anyway, why not act childish instead of making a nuisance of himself?"" Thus, appropriately for an ending, Elvis loses his innocence. It had to happen, and meanwhile he's provided a touching and amusing window on the solemn misconceptions of childhood and the troubles they engender.

Pub Date: April 28th, 1976
Page count: 198pp
Publisher: Delacorte