Less a biography than an attempt to represent this alienating experience from Jemmy’s point of view, it is distinguished by lyrical prose-poetry…and intensely creative and beautifully conceived paintings.
The powerful, spare text contrasts Jemmy’s innocent island life with the isolation he feels in England. His alienation is cleverly reinforced by gauche, oil and collage illustrations using flat patterns and color to compare the island’s verdant vegetation and quiet, starry nights with the sterile, geometric shapes of urban London…The ultimate home-away-home story, beautifully rendered.
From the cover where he peeks out through lush greenery, to the vast visions of the night sky over the island, illustrations of Orundellico’s home pop with color. The scenes in England, in contrast, feature muted tones, with people who appear only as silhouettes, emphasizing the boy’s sense of displacement. This treatment brings the story home for young readers and provides an excellent discussion-starter.
—School Library Journal
The story is told in an ingenuous style that is powerfully enhanced by the impressionistic art, replete with obscured adult figures and a melancholy tone. An unusual read-aloud is also a complex, unique offering for independent readers.
… a stunning picture-book collaboration between its illustrators, Jennifer Uman and Valerio Vidali, and its writer, Alix Barzelay. … In a striking series of tableaux, we see the boy, very small and red, against jungle and sea; later he is surrounded by hard urban surfaces and engulfed in crowds of men in swallowtail coats and women in full-skirted finery.
—The Wall Street Journal