by & illustrated by
Age Range: 8 - 12
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 Shelton's first children's book has some not-quite-magical adventures and a mildly satisfying conclusion; its best feature is an appealing narrative style. Richard (10) and Isabel (6) are befriended by new neighbor Mr. Hoggle, a high-school science teacher with eyes ``dark gold like the color of hickory leaves in the fall'' and skin ``the color of...pecans.'' Together, they have three adventures; then, without adequate explanation, Hoggle moves away. At the start, the children are mourning his departure; there's a flashback to the adventures, then a return to the present. What's missing in this jumpy sequence is any development of Hoggle's character or African-American identity- -other than his gift of African drums and masks (with which the kids later summon up a Christmas snowstorm). ``Being friends with Hoggle had been like having a bowl of ice cream that never ran out''; maybe, but he vanishes before we get to know him. Gates's appealingly realistic soft-pencil art (also a debut) depicts the children and their other friends as white. Ostensibly taking place in Tuscaloosa, a book that's especially undermined by its generic treatment of characters and setting. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-525-65129-2
Page count: 80pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1993