|Publisher:||Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.04(w) x 7.28(h) x 0.31(d)|
|Age Range:||8 - 11 Years|
Read an Excerpt
I NEVER THOUGHT of Crazy Eli as being a part of my life. The fact that I saw him every week had nothing to do with it. I had to go by his house at least twice a day, on my way to and from school. Although he wasn't always visible, I couldn't help but look down from the sidewalk at the hovel in which he lived. It was really the basement of the house of someone whom I also didn't know.
By also, I mean I didn't know Crazy Eli either. I just knew where he lived. His house had an outside door, but no windows. No one had ever been inside his homeif you want to call it thatthat I knew of, and I'm sure there wasn't anybody who wanted to enter his home, either.
The way we got to see Crazy Eli intentionally was if we stood on the sidewalk and taunted him, by saying things like "Kookoolala is kookoo, Kookoolala is kookoo," in a singsong voice. We called him Kookoolala until we grew old enough to switch to Crazy Eli, which was what the adults called him. I never did learn his real name.
It wouldn't be long before the door would fly open, and Crazy Eli would come charging out, waving a short-handled axe in his right hand, grunting and heaving and making strange gurgling sounds with his voice, because he either couldn't speak or had never learned how.
We always had enough of a head start, so we knew he could never catch us, but we didn't know if he might throw his axe and hit one of us. That was part of the excitement. Though we were never really scareduntil the moment when the chase began. But he never did. Nor did he ever really come close to catching us. At the first corner, we would split off into three different directions, even though he almost never chased us past that point.
If we saw him the next day, pulling his wagon with stuff he'd picked up along the street, we knew that whatever happened the day before was now forgotten. But that didn't mean we talked to him, because if we had there was no way of knowing what he might do. It meant you would have to go right up to him and speak up. And that called for more guts than any of us had.
Although we were afraid of Crazy Eli and thought he must be crazy, the way we looked at it was that he had as much right to be on the street as anyone else, and what he did with his wagon was his business. We just watched him out of the corners of our eyes and went about our own business. As far as I could tell he didn't see or notice any of us. It was his indifference that also made him seem different, and it was part of the reason we thought he was nuts.
If I thought about it, the only thing I had in common with Crazy Eli was that we lived in the same neighborhood. But we did have one other thing in common that, if you would have told me about it in advance, I would have said wasn't worth mentioning, or even worth trying to understand. What that was was that we were both loners.
But it was silly even to think about. Here I was, a sixth grader, a little over five feet tall, pretty heavy into style, and a good athlete with dreams about playing in the major leagues. Crazy Eli was over six feet tall at least, bony and gawky-looking, and always wore the same grey clothes. And he didn't know a baseball bat from an axe handle.
Although I never made the comparison myself, you might say that my knapsack was like Crazy Eli's wagon. That's where I put all the stuff I couldn't get into my pockets, just like he used his wagon for putting things in that he picked up on his travels around the city and in the neighboring woods. Of course, we didn't collect the same kinds of things. Crazy Eli was usually hauling pieces of wood, old bricks, jars, and branches, and stuff that looked to me like nothing but weeds. Also, there's a big difference between a knapsack and a wagon, just as there was a big difference in our routes.
My route was the river that came from somewhere in the north and wound its way down to the lake, which was the east side of our city. I mean, we didn't have an east side to our town; you either lived on the north side, the west side, or the south side; only the lake lived on the east side.
Some people thought the lake was the best thing about our town, but I preferred the river, which was mostly deserted and belonged to the animals, the tall grasses, the big oak trees, and other trees that grew along its banks. That's where I always went for my adventuring, and I always went alone.
Almost every day, once school was out, I would fill my knapsack, to which I tied my sectional cane pole, and then I would head out for the river.
I never made a plan because, when it comes to adventuring along the river, you can never tell what you are going to find, or where Nature's mysteries are apt to lead you next. I was always looking for edible plants, like the wild asparagus bed I found once, or herbs to take home to my mother. She liked to sneak a sandwich into my knapsack when I wasn't looking, even though she knew it made me mad because there was always more than enough food where I was heading.
Feeding myself was part of the adventure and fun. There were berries and nuts in season, and of course fish and crayfish to catch and cook. But mostly I liked to just observe everything around me. I knew where the dens of the different animals were, and some days I would camouflage myself and observe them without being noticed myself.
Other days I hunted for Indian flints and arrowheads while I searched for their caves and tried to imagine their presences long, long ago, when this land belonged to them alone. I liked to imagine myself an Indian because I envied their lives, which seemed both natural and true. I knew they had developed powers of observation, endurance, and survival skills, as well as
Excerpted from The Revelations of Alvin Tolliver by David Kherdian. Copyright © 2001 by David Kherdian. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Alvin doesn't seem to have friends at school, but he has no trouble relating to nature-loving adults that he meets in forest and field. There are lessons here about ecology and living with natural creatures, but the real lesson is that kids who seem to be 'loners' at school need not feel alone in the world if they find their niche. Something to be passionately interested in seems to be the secret. Letting others of like mind enter their world takes away the 'alone'. Everyone has a forte and people need to find it and be at peace with who they are. All the special people in this book have a niche, but it doesn't necessarily mean being part of a crowd! Good book for those who feel apart from their contempooraries and for those who maybe ostrasize them!