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Lewis is one of those boys who suffers under the rarely recognized form of patronage which comes from adults who try to be consciously patient and understanding. The ritual of intercommunication is beyond him (""'It's time for you to go to bed, isn't it?' or ""Tomatoes are good for you, aren't they?' If he said no to any of these questions, grownups would look dizzy."") and the behavior of his elders is predictable and wearing (""Lewis...knew his mother was smiling only because she wanted him to do something different from what he was going to do.""). While Lewis' parents are on vacation he is able to meet two rather eccentric adults who share their peculiarities with him on an equal level. Miss Fitchlow, his competent baby sitter, usually knows when to leave him alone and occasionally introduces him to the fine points of yoga and health food. Mr. Madruga is the elderly Spaniard he meets on a bench in Central Park. Lewis undertakes to write down the letter Mr. Madruga had long planned to write to his overprotective son-in-law; in return the old man takes him cave hunting. And these extraneous activities free Lewis to overcome some long-term problems (from misspelling to playing with younger children). It's a little more depressing than Maurice's Room (p. 109-J41), but written with the same natural, understated perception of how a young boy works, especially in relation to his parents. The characteristic quaintness of Edward Ardizzone's drawings doesn't seem quite consistent with the up-to-date tone of the story.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1966
ISBN: 1442416777
Publisher: Macmillan