In this recently rediscovered short story, little boy Brown describes a day in the country with his family’s maid, Hilda. Little boy Brown usually spends his time with Hilda and the various employees of his New York City apartment building while his parents go to work. His day in the country with Hilda and her family is filled with warmth and domestic tasks that are novelties to little boy Brown. He gravitates naturally to the kind adults who befriend him, enjoying special attention and family life, remembering it as the “nicest time in all my life.” Readers cannot help but feel that something essential is missing from this child’s own home.
The highlight of the book is André François’ artwork. His illustrations resemble a child’s drawings with details and perspectives that small children observe. The reader has the sense that little boy Brown is a good-natured fellow who almost feels sorry for his parents who are so wrapped up in their jobs that they cannot enjoy themselves. While the publisher recommends the book for ages 3-8, younger children may fail to understand the significance of the contrast between the sophisticated but lonely life of the Brown family and Hilda’s simple yet happy home.
Jennifer Minicus is a mother and teacher living in Ridgewood, NJ.