O'Connor, Barbara. 2009. The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis. FSG. 150 pages.
Popeye opened his eye and looked up at the heart-shaped stain on the ceiling of his bedroom. Rusty water squeezed out of the hole in the peeling plaster and dropped onto the foot of his bed.
It had been raining for a week.
Meet Popeye. He's a young boy that I just loved getting to know in The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis. You could say that he had a very boring life, about as unadventurous as you can possibly get. But when Popeye meets Elvis, there's promise of more.
Elvis arrives in a silver motor home. A going-nowhere-anytime-soon motor home. Because they are stuck, stuck, stuck in the mud. Which suits Popeye just fine. Because for the first time in forever, he has someone to play with! Someone his own age to get in trouble with! A friend.
Here's one of my favorite bits (and there were many!):
Elvis stopped suddenly and whirled around to face Popeye. "Let's do something," he said.
"I don't know," Elvis said. "What's there to do around here?"
Popeye looked around.
Weeds. Ditch. Trees. Mailbox. House. Shed. Trailer.
He shrugged. "Not much." (26)
A few pages later, we read:
The boys watched a dragonfly flit around the weeds out by the mailbox.This book is fun and charming. The writing just works. It's almost magical how right this book feels.
They played tic-tac-toe in the dirt with a stick.
They took turns scratching Boo's stomach with the tic-tac-toe stick.
Then, out of the clear blue, Elvis grabbed Popeye by the shoulders and gave him a little shake. "Let's have an adventure," he said.
Popeye blinked. "An adventure?"
Elvis nodded. "It doesn't have to be a big adventure," Elvis said. "It can be a small adventure." He gave Popeye another little shake. "Let's have a small adventure."
A small adventure!
That was exactly what Popeye had been needing.
"Okay," he said.
Elvis ran off toward the woods behind the shed.
"Come on!" he called to Popeye over his shoulder.
Popeye jumped off the porch steps.
"Come on, Boo," he said. "Let's go have a small adventure." Then he hurried after Elvis, his stomach turning flips of excitement and his heart light and breezy as a cloud. (29)
Will these two young boys ever have a proper adventure? Read and see for yourself! I definitely recommend this one! I think anyone who has ever felt a little bored or a little lonely can find much to appreciate in this one.
Popeye and Elvis spent all afternoon trying to have a small adventure.
They followed a trail that ran through the woods and ended up at a dirt road.
They followed the dirt road until it came to a dead end.
They overturned moss-covered rocks in the creek behind Popeye's house and built a dam out of branches and mud to trap minnows.
They walked to the gas station down on the main highway, where Popeye was never supposed to go without asking Velma first.
But they didn't have an adventure.
Not even a small one. (30, 31)
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews