A lonely boy finds but never meets a kindred spirit in this summer reverie.
For two weeks every summer, Charlie is dropped off at his grandparents’ farmhouse, while his parents vacation without him. The blond, white boy occupies his time wandering in nearby woods and along the stream. Thus he spends his days, whacking weeds with his special weed-whacking stick and dropping stones in the water from an old bridge. The action picks up when Charlie discovers that when he bangs on the bridge’s metal rail with a stone, the whole bridge rings with a deep bong. The bigger the rock, the deeper and louder the sound, like “a bell, a really big bell like one in a church tower.” The sound echoes down the valley—then a second sound returns from the distance. Could there be someone on another bridge communicating with him? Ending on a predictable hopeful note, the omniscient narrator lets readers know that perhaps there will be a friend for next summer’s visit. Root has created a rural landscape in watercolor-and-gouache paintings in a palette of avocado and ochre that captures a feeling of heat and stillness. In one illustration, Charlie is depicted holding a tablet, his face lit with its glow, but his days are otherwise tech-free. It’s a curious evocation of summer boredom, appealing yet alien.
A bucolic story with more adult than child appeal. (Picture book. 4-8)