Bluffton: My Summers with Buster Keaton

by Matt Phelan

Bluffton was an actors' colony just outside Muskegon, Michigan, established in 1908... read more

Bluffton was an actors' colony just outside Muskegon, Michigan, established in 1908 by Joe Keaton to give Vaudeville performers a place to relax during the summer months when theaters were too hot to draw an audience. For Joe's son, Buster, Bluffton was a place where he could be a kid, pursuing his love of baseball and hanging out with kids his own age instead of starring in his parents' act. A graphic novel spanning three summers is told from the point of view of Henry Harrison, a fictional boy who lives in Muskegon. He becomes Buster's summer friend and dreams of being a performer himself. Life in Muskegon is anything but glamorous, but to be on the stage! Everything is wonderfully understated in Matt Phelan's storytelling, from the color palette to the dialogue to the way he fills in Henry's life between each of the summers with several brief, elegant, wordless page spreads. A handful of years can bring maturity and new depth of understanding, and just how Henry changes, and how his relationship with Buster affects and reveals that change, is gracefully told. (Ages 9-13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2014

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