By Don Brown
128 pages
Roaring Brook
August 2007

I’m going to start looking forward to author-illustrator Brown‘s novels as much as I do his biographical picture books. I say this having just finished his second historical fiction effort in as many years, which immediately drew me in with its tale of teenage hobos riding the rails during the Great Depression.

As did The Notorious Izzy Fink, Brown’s story starts fast and ends almost as quickly, inviting readers who may not be opposed to lengthy, intricate tales but sure don’t mind a short, punchy one. And like Brown’s first novel, this one examines the casually caustic racism of a bygone era. But while the discrimination cuts deeper this time around, it’s just one flavor of hard times faced by westward-bound Collie, and it accentuates rather than weighs down his rollicking adventures and hair’s-breadth scrapes in this absorbing tale.