From School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-Alfie lives in a seemingly happy home with his parents, brother, and sister, but his father is always working and yells a lot. Uncle Pete comes to stay with them and gives Alfie attention, including unwanted sexual attention, calling it their ``special secret.'' As Alfie grows into a teen, he is teased about being gay. Finally, he goes to a counselor who tells him he isn't gay and that he just missed his father's love and was taught wrong things by his uncle. The same man talks to Alfie's parents, they stop fighting, and Dad begins to spend time with his son playing ball and camping. Uncle Pete is also confronted, but is forgiven when he cries. Now Alfie is ready to date Nancy, whom he marries, and they have a boy and a girl whom they love a lot. Everything about this book screams fake. The illustrations are flat and garish in their simplicity, lacking any personality or appeal. If the generic illustrations aren't a complete turnoff, the saccharine tone of the writing gives further challenge to credibility. If readers were able to ignore the presentation, there is still the message of the text to choke them. A boy from a dysfunctional family who is abused throughout his childhood and into his teens sees a counselor and everything is suddenly wonderful. Now if everything is pulled together, there is still a problem-the format of a picture book with large print makes this look like a book for preschoolers, but the writing attempt is aimed more at preteens who would scorn such a presentation-and rightly so.-Nancy A. Gifford, Schenectady County Public Library, NY
Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information, Inc.