by Steven Woolman
Crew (First Light) weaves a disquieting tale set in an Australian outback town, where a rusted old watertower seems to be inhabited by a malevolent alien presence. One sweltering afternoon, two buddies named Bubba and Steve, climb the tower for a swim. When Bubba's pants are lost, Steve runs back to town to get him another pair, to avert Bubba's mother's wrath. In the meantime, Bubba takes another dunk and emerges a changed boy (readers never find out why); he now possesses the same crazed, fixed expression that the town's grown-ups wear, and his hand is marked with the watertower logo--which also appears on baseball caps and elsewhere around town. Crew lets readers draw their own conclusions about these strange events. Unfortunately, despite Woolman's able renderings in acrylic, chalk and pencil, the design--which shifts between horizontal and vertical orientations--only underscores the feeling of disorientation raised in the text. This one may well leave even savvy older readers in the dark. Ages 7-14.