Under the Big Sky Hardcover Book
At his grandfather's urging, a boy sets out in search of the secret of life in order to inherit the old man's riches, and he learns that riches are to be found in unexpected places and the journey "Under the Big Sky" is its own reward.
Age Range: 7 - 9
Grade level: 2 - 3
Page Count: 48 pages
Product Dimensions: 6" x 0.4" x 9"
Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
"An old man promises his entire fortune to his grandson on one condition: "You must find the secret of life and bring it back to me." The boy's search turns into a global quest that takes him "eleven years, twelve days, twenty-two minutes and thirty-six seconds" and along the way he encounters a host of aphorism-spouting people and things. A fence, for example, tells him, "The secret of life is not one thing.... Take me, for example. Each post means nothing until it is joined to make a long, winding fence. A fence that goes all over the place but stays together." But nothing seems to illuminate the proverbial light bulb over his head and, now a young man, he returns to his grandfather convinced that he has failed. Au contraire, says the old man: "Your journey itself was the secret of life." He has another revelation in store as well: the promised riches are not money or material goods, but rather everything "under the big sky" (the young man's reaction to this switcheroo goes unrecorded). Romain's (The Boy Who Swallowed a Rainbow) squiggly but assured watercolor-and-ink cartoons, one or two vignettes per floating white spread, make for a handsome visual presentation. This is not a book for children, however. It may have use as a graduation gift, but delivers a heavy-handed message. All ages."
-Publishers Weekly | Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
"Gr 2 Up-In this contemporary fable, a young man stands to inherit his grandfather's riches if he succeeds in finding the secret of life. So the lad sets out on his quest and asks a car, a tree, a farmer, a cello, etc. if they have the answer; and while all reply in the negative, they each share advice and adages: "No matter how many miles you travel, you should always remember where you come from. -always make sure of your footing as you climb." After 11+ years and a worldwide pilgrimage, he returns to his grandfather to discover that the journey itself was the secret of life and that riches, like his experiences, could be found "under the big sky." Eloquent watercolor cartoons against lots of white background always include a bit of blue sky and illuminate the young man's experiences as well as his dialogues with his grandfather. The text is straightforward and relatively brief but the maxims require a degree of sophistication and introspection. And while the pacing is varied, so many "interviews" with inanimate objects followed by a global journey extend his philosophical peregrinations needlessly. Chapter-book size, but picture book in format, this title has some worthwhile advice for pensive readers but the trek may be too tedious for most."
- School Library Journal | Carol Ann Wilson, Westfield Memorial Library, NJ
"Gr. 4-7. Romain's work with pediatric cancer victims is almost as well known as his work as a wordsmith. Called Dr. Mischief in medical circles, the South African born Romain champions joy and hopeful energy. That same compassionate undertone makes this book a quiet treasure. A grandfather reminds his youthful grandson, "I am getting old and one of these days I'm going to die." The old man pledges all his riches if the youth can find the secret of life and return with it before Grandfather passes on. Off the boy goes, asking everything he encounters--cars, trees, farmers, ladders, a tortoise--for clues, only to return empty handed. "Your journey itself was the secret of life," his grandfather reveals. The riches, in fact, were already his. Spare, simple cartoon art, in pen-and-ink washed in watercolor, is the right accompaniment for the soft-spoken story. The highly pictorial format may attract young children, but it's older ones who will understand the message."
-Booklist | Kelly Halls