Babbitt’s gentle tale presents 12-year-old Joe, who is faced with a decision that could completely change the course of his life.
Orphaned shortly after his birth, Joe, who loves the moon, has been raised by his Gran, but after she breaks a hip, he’s sent to spend some of the summer with his father’s cousin, Aunt Myra, an unmarried teacher who’s always dreamed of raising the boy. In nearly idyllic Midville, he meets the lovely Beatrice, who is not only just his age but also a soul mate. But he inadvertently comes to the attention of the very wealthy factory owner Mr. Boulderwall—aptly, humorously named—who decides that he will adopt Joe and raise him to take over his company, a decision offering the potential of enormous wealth for the boy, but little else. Characters share an otherworldly simplicity of focus and concern that changes this effort from a realistic tale to a cautionary fable about the true impact of choices. The plot quietly meanders toward a conclusion that’s never in doubt, but readers will still celebrate Gran’s showdown with the clueless businessman. While set in the mid-1960s, there’s little to strongly place it in that period.
A congenial, cheerful tale with an important message; Babbitt may reach a new generation of readers with this satisfying work. (Fiction. 8-12)