This 32 page book for ages 5-8 is a perfectly presented story about inter-generational and intercultural friendships. Big on sentiment and heart while keeping the text short allows the compassion the two friends have for each other and their actions of showing how they feel toward one another speak volumes. The illustrations appear to be cut paper and add to the thoughtfulness that the story presents.
Khalil and his family live upstairs and are noisy. Mr. Hagerty is quiet and lives downstairs. The two bond over their love of the back yard. While Mr. Hagerty works in his garden, Khalil hunts for bugs and rocks and treasure.
When Khalil doesn’t know a word, Mr. Hagerty teaches him. When Mr. Hagerty can’t remember a word, Khalil helps him.
That summer it is hot, really hot. The carrots are all shriveled, and Khalil can’t dig the hard earth for treasures either. So the two decide to have “refreshments,” which means chocolate cake and milk.
That night, the two friends separately plot to cheer the other up. They put their plan in to action and, no I’m not going to spoil the sweet acts the two do for each other. But it is clever and sweet and all the things that make a feel good story stick with you and remind you that age and culture and color are nothing when two people open their hearts to learn and grow.
There is no reason anyone casually reading the book would think that Khalil is a Muslim, and who knows maybe he isn’t, but the name Khalil caught my attention and the author’s dedication is to a Khalil, Muhammad, Fatima, and Adam. So yes, I totally am claiming it. Even if it isn’t, the old white man, and the young boy of color bonding is a great message in-and-of itself that we need to see more of in literature and real life.