Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
"In another unusual and sensitive intergenerational story, a follow-up to the Batchelder Honor book Garmann's Summer (2008), the anxious, introspective Norwegian boy now frets about Roy, a bully from the fourth grade. While standing near the overgrown garden of the Stamp Man, an old mailman who's scary to the neighborhood children, Garmann is goaded by Roy to light a match, which falls and sets the tall grass on fire. The boy earns a new ally instead of scorn when he helps put out the fire, and both Garmann and the Stamp Man discover that they are collectors, one of stamps and one of pressed flowers, with a penchant for numbers. Hole's expressive, detailed and surreal photo-collage illustrations are similar to those in the first outing, with patterned backgrounds and a blend of contemporary and vintage images from Legos and Batman to a nod to Magritte's Golconda with raining men. A host of characters, including Elvis, from Garmann's first outing also return. American readers who look beyond the seemingly quirky illustrations will find a visually stunning tale of friendship."
"This sequel to Garmann's Summer traverses equally inventive, if unsettling, territory. A bully named Roy, who is 'Congress, God, the basketball team's top scorer, and first in everything' pressures Garmann to light a match, which starts a fire in the yard of a scary, eccentric neighbor, known as the 'Stamp Man.' The fire is put out, and an odd friendship grows between Garmann and the man, who shares with the boy his stamp collection and unconventional trains of thought. 'If you stretch out your intestines, they will be over twenty-five feet long,' he says, to which Garmann replies, 'There are 440 steps to school, 230 days until summer vacation . . . and I am always last to be picked when we make teams at recess time.' Such revealing, unexpected connections also occur in the wild juxtaposition of illustrations and photos, including oversize heads, stamp cancellations, and a rainstorm comprising people in parachutes. With its dark undercurrents and startlingly original style, this book may not have broad appeal. But for children aware that 'Life is never completely safe,' as Garmann's father says, it will be reassuring to see the help a like-minded companion can offer."
"Norwegian author-illustrator Hole applies his philosophical sensibility and blisteringly original visual style to another multilayered peek into the life of young Garmann. Egged on by the neighborhood alpha boy, Garmann lights a match and accidentally sets a fire in the overgrown yard of the strange old man who lives at the end of the street. After an intense sequence putting the blaze out, Garmann and the man form the cautious friendship of kindred spirits. The old man's transformation from a creepy weirdo to a quirky grandfather figure is pitched nearly seamlessly. Hole's mixed-media collage artwork may be unmatched in capturing some of the true flavor of childhood whimsy and wonder, including the sometimes darker side. Here he hints at this subtext, but it never becomes quite as unsettling (or as powerful) as the scary spreads of the deaths-head aunts in his Batchelder honor book, Garmann's Summer (2008). With the same respect for the intelligence and mental flexibility of his audience, Hole suggests much but tells little in this deceptively simple slice-of-life. "
School Library Journal
"In this follow-up to Garmann's Summer (Eerdmans, 2008), a fourth-grade bully dares Garmann to light a match as he stands at the edge of an elderly neighbor's yard. He accidentally drops the match, setting the dry grass ablaze. As Roy flees, the property owner, a foreboding ex-mailman known as the Stamp Man, tells Garmann to run for help. The fire is soon put out and a friendship develops between the boy and the old man, who share a love of wildflowers and numerical trivia. By summer's end, Garmann finds that he is no longer intimidated by the bully. As with the previous book, the lengthy text is illustrated in mixed-media collage, including dried flowers, postmarks, and digitally altered photos. The tiny print and surreal-looking pictures reflect the introspective nature of the text and make this picture book an acquired taste for older readers. Fans of the first book will most likely appreciate this sequel."