Monday, November 28, 2016

Bluffton: My Summers with Buster Keaton - Matt Phelan

Summary: 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. (Summary and picture from goodreads.com)

My Review: Buster Keaton has always been my favorite of the silent era comedians, his dead pan look, his fantastic stunts, his unique humor.  This story, while the main character is fictitious, does have true elements about Buster Keaton's youth in the town of Bluffton.

I liked the element of showing Buster's young life through Henry, a boy his own age, how Henry wanted to be like Buster, learning his prat falls and tricks, when all Buster wanted was just to be a normal kid and play baseball.  It's a good telling of a part of history some people might not think about, a unique tale with insight into one of the greatest comedians of all time.

And the art--the art is gorgeous.  Sometimes it's little more than a few pencil marks over watercolor, but it is so beautiful.  It is the perfect medium, giving off a strong sense of memory and nostalgia, and sweeps the story along in a gently-paced way.

My Rating: Four Stars

For the sensitive reader: Not much to report, this is a gentle story.

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