The author of The Trouble with Thirteen, Looking On and other outstanding novels, Miles presents a story that's a sheer joy to experience. Told entirely in the authentic voice of B. J. Johnson, 11, the adventure begins on a bus taking him with a group of children from Harlem to a New Hampshire town. They are invited for two weeks in the country by the program sponsored by Fresh Air. B. J. is a bit homesick, missing his Mama and friends back in the city, worried over how white people may feel about black kids. All his fears vanish when the Roberts family welcomes B. J. Jimmy Roberts and his little sister Linda become like brother and sister to B. J. and their parents are warmhearted and loving, treating B. J. as part of the family. It's fun to share the guest's delights in farm living: fresh eggs and corn, a camping trip, a country fair, learning to swim even though he's terrified. The reader is sad, as B. J. and the Robertses are when he leaves, but glad to know he'll be back the next year. (913)
Gr 4-6 Eleven-year-old B.J. Johnson enters a whole new world when he leaves the inner city of New York to spend two weeks of his summer vacation with a New Hampshire family as part of a Fresh Air program. The new experiences of being surrounded by nature, animals and white people for the first time form the story line. Through B.J.'s words and thoughts, told in black English, Miles portrays his emergence from his initial timidity and fright to his blossoming into a confident, self-assured young man. Progressing from a non-swimmer to a competent one parallels his overall development during his visit. Miles steers clear of any racial conflicts which could arise in this setting, and B.J. and his young friends come off as a bit too perfect in regard to the behavior and politeness expected from kids of their age. Still, the plot will hold children's interest, and the depiction of everyday life in a rural community will be of special interest to city children who have little chance for first-hand experience in this environment.Tom S. Hurlburt, Anoka County Library, Blaine, Minn.