My Summers With Buster

Graphic Novel - 2013
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Henry bonds with a young Buster Keaton over games of baseball while the latter summers locally with a troupe of vaudeville performers.
Publisher: Somerville, Massachusetts : Candlewick Press, 2013
ISBN: 9780763650797
Characteristics: 223 pages : color illustrations ; 21 cm


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Oct 01, 2018

The central draw to this book was Buster Keaton, at least for me. The man is my favorite filmmaker and actor, and has been since I was in high school. This book allows the reader to meet a preteen Keaton through the vantage point of a boy named Henry, who thinks Buster has it made with the exciting life of a vaudevillian. However, Buster is drawn to the stability of Henry's small-town life. Keaton only got to be a kid during those summers in Bluffton, where he played baseball and pulled pranks, and didn't have to worry about the demands of travel and working.

Phelan does a great job of evoking the turn of the century through small details and diction. All of the characters were lovely too. His characterization of Keaton in particular is excellent, very in line with all the biographies and interviews I've perused about the man.

CRRL_CraigG Jun 25, 2015

Phelan's work is intentionally quiet. There are long stretches without text, allowing us to follow the story through his lovingly crafted watercolor images. It is not surprising that Phelan finds a muse in Buster Keaton, one of the greatest silent filmmakers of all time.

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BCD2013 Jun 12, 2014

NYPL Staff Pick
When his town becomes the summer retreat for a troupe of vaudevillians, a young boy befriends twelve-year-old Buster Keaton, who will one day become a silent film star legend.

Mar 27, 2014

I had started then stopped this book. Why? It simply didn't hold my interest and the illustrations were, at best, bland. So I decided to go back and read it with an open mind. This is about a young boy who grows up and one of his companions is Buster Keaton. Buster Keaton was a real person, with a facinating horrible life. This book however simply touches on the fact that he came to a town and was the companion of the young man. They are not friends. The young man is jealous of him, they played baseball together but that's about the depth of their relationship. I did research on Buster Keaton afterwards. And found out what a influential but tragic life he had. The book drops facts about who he was but glosses over the abuses that he suffered. Usually when a book prompts me to do research on a person I enjoy it; this time I did not.

Jan 08, 2014

Set in the early 1900s this tells the story of the main character's friendship with Buster Keaton when he was a child traveling as part of his parents act.

Mostly illustrations, which tell the story. Done well and a nice introduction to Buster Keaton in a unique way.

JCLChrisK Nov 26, 2013

This is a beautifully painted graphic novel, using watercolor washes that manage to be both subdued and dynamic at the same time. The faces and figures that appear in every frame are always lifelike, expressive, and dynamic, often rendering words unnecessary. ----- The story centers on a boy in a small town who is bored with the blandness of everyday life, dreaming of big, flashy entertainments. He is absolutely thrilled to learn that many famous vaudeville entertainers have decided to start vacationing each summer from their life of traveling shows at the edge of his town. The other townspeople get over the novelty of their new neighbors quickly, but the thrill never wears off for Henry. Most central to his happiness is the friendship he develops with the similarly-aged Buster Keaton, and they spend nearly every day hanging out together. Through Henry's eyes, we learn about Keaton's pre-Hollywood childhood--how children's rights activists hounded Buster's father for keeping him out of school, for instance--and a fascinating slice of history. It's a quietly engaging story.


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