Saturday, August 3, 2013


Bluffton by Matt Phelan

This is a book I managed to get at the ALA conference and it was signed by the author with Buster's unsmiling expression! I'll post a picture of it below. Yay!

Disclaimer: The book I read is the Advanced Reader's Copy, although the book is actually out in print. The version I have is in black and white, so I bet I'm missing out on some colorful fun images.

So an amazon summary, "In the summer of 1908, in Muskegon, Michigan, a visiting troupe of vaudeville performers is about the most exciting thing since baseball. They’re summering in nearby Bluffton, so Henry has a few months to ogle the elephant and the zebra, the tightrope walkers and — lo and behold — a slapstick actor his own age named Buster Keaton. The show folk say Buster is indestructible; his father throws him around as part of the act and the audience roars, while Buster never cracks a smile. Henry longs to learn to take a fall like Buster, "the human mop," but Buster just wants to play ball with Henry and his friends. With signature nostalgia, Scott O’Dell Award–winning graphic novelist Matt Phelan visualizes a bygone era with lustrous color, dynamic lines, and flawless dramatic pacing." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

This book is set in the Muskegon, MI area; more specifically Bluffton. Personally, I take up my hermit-hood in West Michigan in the lakeshore area (Holland/Grand Haven/Muskegon) and made a trip to see what the Bluffton area was like and uncover a bit more about the history. It was worth the trip, I didn't manage to take any photos because my phone battery died (and really, did you want more horrible pictures from that camera? Bleh) but I got to see how the history was still present. It was pretty neat.

Yes, someday I will master the art of taking pictures
with my phone. Until then, slightly not good picture.
But that face! So good.
The story itself tells the story of Henry and his relationship with Buster over the summers they spend together. There's a lot of laughter between the pages; but it's also touched by some very real, 'scary', adult elements dealt with in a child's attitude.

I also hadn't heard of the vaudeville performers before so that was pretty exciting history for me. I also thought it was kind of interesting how they portrayed Buster's relationship with the stage, his family, the other performers, and the government official type folks. ...have I said too much?


The character's emotions were easy to read as their faces were very articulate. That's a weird way of saying the artist was awesome. Don't mind me.

Plus, it's kind of like a circus feel to it. There are elephants, giraffes and different performers doting throughout the pages, yet the story is between the two boys. The relationship between them. So the vaudeville bit is ever present, but it concentrates more on the boys and how relationships can shape a person in ways.

If you haven't got on, it is a graphic novel, which I would normally put in my 'The Comic Book Chronicle' page. I just had to give it a real review because the author was really fun to meet.

I thought it was a pretty peaceful, beautiful story. If that makes sense.

Happy reading!

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