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.
Thrilling—a spirited, poignant coming-of-age vignette and an intriguing window into a little-known chapter in vaudeville history. —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Phelan’s watercolors are expertly rendered and soft in focus, but pop at just the right moments, simultaneously showing the sleepiness of the town, the glamour of show business, and the energy of summer. ... Bluffton is a rich and engaging story with a lot of charm, and will be a great choice for early chapter-book readers and graphic-novel fans. —School Library Journal (starred review)
Wonderfully evocative... With a beautiful economy of phrase and image, Mr. Phelan shows Henry's happiness in the company of his glamorous friend but also the jealousy that begins to trouble him. —The Wall Street Journal