Bluffton: My Summers with Buster (Prebound)
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We're pretty good as a society at trying to make children aware of their literary cultural heritage. Lots of people who've never cracked the spine of Moby Dick still know from Ahab, Ismael, Queequeg, and even (after the help of coffee-shop hyperbole) Starbucks. But in a world saturated with screens, kids seldom get much grounding in early cinema.
Bluffton, which is a graphic novel spun from some biographical facts about Buster Keaton, is a sweet corrective to the trend. On the one hand, it's a beautifully drawn story about two boys--one rustic, one urbane--their "the grass is always greener" envy of one another. It's full of vaudeville history,
coming-of-age adventure, and friendship, all with a pleasing latter-day- Mark-Twain vibe. It's completely lovely just as a summer story. But on the other hand? It's a perfect way to help hook kids on the genius of silent film.
In the summer of 1908, in Muskegon, Michigan, a visiting troupe of vaudeville performers is about the most exciting thing since baseball. They re summering in nearby Bluffton, so Henry has a few months to ogle the elephant and the zebra, the tightrope walkers and lo and behold a slapstick actor his own age named Buster Keaton. The show folk say Buster is indestructible; his father throws him around as part of the act and the audience roars, while Buster never cracks a smile. Henry longs to learn to take a fall like Buster, "the human mop," but Buster just wants to play ball with Henry and his friends. With signature nostalgia, Scott O Dell Award winning graphic novelist Matt Phelan visualizes a bygone era with lustrous color, dynamic lines, and flawless dramatic pacing.
About the Author
Matt Phelan is the author-illustrator of the award-winning graphic novels The Storm in the Barn and Around the World. He is also the illustrator of Always and I ll Be There by Ann Stott and The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, winner of the Newbery Medal. He lives in Philadelphia."