I’ve always been fascinated by kids who had to move around a lot. I never moved until I went away to college. Same house. Same town. Same little hiding spot at the back of the closet where I kept all of my diaries and bad adolescent poetry. But whenever a new kid came to my school, I was always a little tad smitten. Whether they moved from Texas or from three blocks away, I always attributed some sort of romance to the notion of moving from one house to another and secretly envied the chance to start all over fresh and exciting – making new friends, despite the nervousness that must accompany such a daunting task. Perhaps it is this long-standing fascination that makes Norton Juster’s Neville so darn endearing. In it, a little boy has just moved to a new town. And with this move come all of the emotions inherent in such a change – fear, anger, loneliness. Will he find new friends? Will he fit in? His mother suggests the mythical solution to all childhood problems: “go outside” and the little boy does…reluctantly. How will he make friends just by going outside? Thinking perhaps there might be something a little more dramatic to do, the little boy starts yelling “Neville” at the top of his lungs. Pretty soon, curious little children hear the siren call and come to investigate. And, as children often do, they decide to join in the party, despite not quite knowing what the party actually is. Soon, all of the children are screaming for the ever-elusive Neville and magically bonding over this seemingly bananas activity. Just who is Neville? You’ll have to read this superb book (by the same author as The Phantom Tollbooth, no less ) and find out for yourself.  The seemingly daunting task of making new friends is made delightful – even fascinating.

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