An achingly lovely story of a child's regaining a sense of his family's past. Grandpa is old, gray, and willowy by the time he first visits his young grandson (who narrates), sometime early in this century. He has a touch of the mythic about him: frontier cowboy, roving photographer, Ozark homesteader, father of 11. Passing along his life story to the boy, he downplays its sheer heroism and highlights smaller pleasures. When the boy (an orphan since infancy, he lives with an uncle and aunt) produces a picture of his dad, Grandpa speaks his piece in throat-tightening simplicity: ""He was too young to be no soldier, but he done good. They told me so."" Grandpa soon heads home to his Ozark cabin. ""I won't be back. It's too far and I'm too old."" Throughout, the boy's sense of loss, displacement, thirst for warmth, and need for Grandpa's words are always palpable. The visit is so fleeting, yet there's no doubt this brief encounter will linger with the boy, and even change his life. The jacket painting is a little mawkish, but Dodson's fine interior illustrations are as evocative, suggestive, and as unpretentious as the old man himself.