Hit the Road, Jack

Robert Burleigh, Author, Ross MacDonald, Illustrator
Robert Burleigh, illus. by Ross MacDonald. Abrams, $17.95 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4197-0399-7
Reviewed on: 07/23/2012
Release date: 09/01/2012
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MacDonald (Grumpy Grandpa) draws a ramblin’ man—well, a ramblin’ rabbit—who crosses the country from New York City to the Golden Gate, hitching rides, sleeping in haylofts, and lingering in diners. “Lone Tree, Newton, Oskaloosa,/ Redfield, Poplar Bluff,/ A thousand names fly by—but Jack,/ There’ll never be enough.” Jack is modeled on Jack Kerouac; while he has long, furry ears and an overbite, he also has blue jeans, a snowy white T-shirt, and a story printed in typewritten letters. MacDonald’s nostalgia presents a younger, gentler America; a blue jay follows Jack everywhere he goes, the sun always shines, the land is quilted in gentle folds, and pickup trucks bump along the highway. Burleigh (The Adventures of Mark Twain by Huckleberry Finn) has hipster jargon down: “Go bopping down South Halsted Street./ Where’s the action? What’s the news?/ Fill the jukebox up with dimes,/ Slip on your dancin’ shoes”—but it comes across as starry-eyed, not rebellious. It’s not a biography or an introduction to Kerouac’s work; instead, it’s a tribute to his spirit and his era. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (Sept.)
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