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School Library Journal
Set in 1932, this picture book tells of a teenager who leaves his home in Akron, OH, and takes to the rails to find work and hopefully a better life in California. Despite his father's advice, "look out for you and yours, and nobody else," Rudy learns that people who are down and out have to lean on others sometimes. As he travels west, stopping to take odd jobs, he meets other travelers who help him endure life on the road. They show him the signs left behind by other hoboes, warning of danger and indicating those homes where food would be offered. With their assistance, Rudy, like many other displaced persons, survives, eventually returning home to carve the "kindness here" symbol on his own front porch. Realistic, painterly illustrations depict the teen's cross-country journey, showing the many different trains he rides through the changing North American landscape. Beginning with the despair on the faces of the men waiting in line for work, the paintings clearly convey the characters' emotions. The symbols appear throughout and are defined on an appended page, along with a "Hobo Glossary." The writing is clear and vivid, and an author's note provides context for the story. A wonderful addition to the study of the Great Depression.
—Anne L. TormohlenCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.