Me, All Alone, at the End of the World


From the celebrated picture-book team of M. T. Anderson and Kevin Hawkes comes a wistful, wondrous ode to the natural pleasures of peace and solitude.

The boy lives alone at the End of the World, hunting treasure with old maps, finding fossils, whistling tunes, playing ball by the drop. It's a peaceful, contemplative life, and the boy is content. Until, that is, a self-styled Professional Visionary arrives and puts up a sign: CONSTANTINE ...

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From the celebrated picture-book team of M. T. Anderson and Kevin Hawkes comes a wistful, wondrous ode to the natural pleasures of peace and solitude.

The boy lives alone at the End of the World, hunting treasure with old maps, finding fossils, whistling tunes, playing ball by the drop. It's a peaceful, contemplative life, and the boy is content. Until, that is, a self-styled Professional Visionary arrives and puts up a sign: CONSTANTINE SHIMMER'S GALVANO-MAGICAL END OF THE WORLD TOURS. FUN ALL THE TIME! Soon men with machines come to pave a clearing for the inn and theme park, and the touring children seem nice, but still. . . . M. T. Anderson's lyric homage to simplicity and self-reliance is brought to life in arresting detail by the masterful artwork of Kevin Hawkes, creating a fantastical yet evocative world sure to resonate with everyone who enters it.

A boy enjoys living quietly by himself at The End of the World until Mr. Constantine Shimmer, "Professional Visionary," builds an inn and an amusement park, demanding that tourists come and have "Fun Without End!"

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
"I lived by myself at the End of the World." The white space around the opening line is striking, almost startling, especially when paired with Kevin Hawkes's extraordinary image verso, where each new look reveals another detail in the cliff. Turn the page and for awhile living at the End of the World seems like a good life--at least until the intrusion of a meddling adult. If you are guessing that Mr. Shimmer (Professional Visionary), who speaks in a voice "like wool from dream-sheep," is up to no good, you are right on the money. The allure of development is the weighty theme of this delicately balanced fable in handsomely sized picture book format. As the story winds to a frenzied pace, the young protagonist begins to arrive at an understanding of what really matters and what is really going on. In the end he makes a choice that seems so simple, so final, as to suggest it is the only possible choice. The turn of the story takes us back, in a clever reversal of that opening page layout, to the starkness of land against sky and a tiny sliver of text against a glorious expanse of white space. Yet it leaves us, too, with the sense that the resolution to come, necessary as it is, is only a temporary one. The story seems to demand continuation off the page and into life. Raising more questions than it answers, this is a book to read and reread and one that ought to spark some necessary conversations. 2005, Candlewick, Ages 7 to 10.
—Uma Krishnaswami
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-Living at the end of the world with only his mule for company, an unnamed boy delights in the simple pleasures of treasure hunting and listening to the wind until the day his solitude is disrupted by the arrival of Constantine Shimmer, who brings noise and chaos in his wake. The vigorous old gentleman decides to conduct "Galvano-Magical End of the World Tours," which promise "Fun All the Time." He builds a hotel and an amusement park, turning the boy's serene retreat into a bustling tourist attraction. Three of the vacationing children befriend the youngster, and he enjoys the novelty and excitement of so much activity for a short time, but soon realizes that he misses the wind. With a quiet sense of purpose, he decides to leave. Bidding farewell to his friends, he flies away in a hot-air balloon to set up a new solitary home at the top of the world. The story, which addresses some thought-provoking, philosophical issues, is complemented by full-page watercolor and acrylics illustrations that resonate with old-fashioned charm, as well as smaller ink sketches on the text pages. Contemplative young readers will be enthusiastically carried along with the boy and his friends as they make their way through Mr. Shimmer's magical tourist destination, but, like the narrator, they will appreciate the quiet of their own homes as they reach the final page. Anderson and Hawkes, who collaborated on Handel, Who Knew What He Liked (Candlewick, 2001), have triumphed again with this imaginative fable.-Linda L. Walkins, Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Brighton, MA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A solitary idyll is disturbed by easy entertainment in this gorgeous, complex fable. The nameless narrator, dressed like Huck Finn in overalls with no shirt or shoes, lives peacefully by himself at the End of the World, satisfied with uncomplicated kid-like fancies. But Once-ler-like Constantine Shimmer, Professional Visionary, turns up and proceeds to turn the End of the World into a tourist haven, complete with Hang-Glidery, O-Frost-A-Thon and Yow-Gulf-O-Drop, and the exhortation to have "fun all the time!" This great cosmic disturbance brings real friends for the narrator; they come with the seasons and play with the boy, in the woods and on Shimmer's ever-more-elaborate contraptions. Anderson's text is gloriously cadenced, celebrating simple pleasures even as it acknowledges the dangerous appeal of man-made attractions. Hawkes's illustrations complement the language perfectly, serenely balanced compositions giving way to sinister colors and frenetic perspectives, returning to balance only when the narrator flees to the Top of the World. The narrative makes its point clearly, encouraging readers to make space for solitude, but also acknowledges the need for companionship. A work that requires-and is eminently worthy of-many re-readings. (Picture book. 6-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763615864
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 9/13/2005
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 1,015,124
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: AD650L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.62 (w) x 11.81 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Meet the Author

M. T. Anderson is the author of several distinguished picture books, including HANDEL, WHO KNEW WHAT HE LIKED, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes, named an American Library Association Notable Children's Book and a BOSTON GLOBE-HORN BOOK Honor Book, and THE SERPENT CAME TO GLOUCESTER, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline, a Junior Library Guild Selection. He is also the author of several young adult novels, including FEED, a National Book Award Finalist and winner of the LOS ANGELES TIMES Book Prize.

Kevin Hawkes is the illustrator of numerous award-winning picture books, including WESLANDIA and SIDEWALK CIRCUS, both written by Paul Fleischman. WESLANDIA was named an American Library Association Notable Book and was a finalist for the Kate Greenaway Medal. SIDEWALK CIRCUS, also an American Library Association Notable Children's Book, won the Society of Illustrators Silver Medal.

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