Four Winds Press (now Viking), 1980
Louie has always wanted a father, so he decides to set off in search of one. After looking high and low, Louie stumbles across a music box that has fallen off a junk collector’s truck. He tries to return the box to the truck driver, who angrily accuses him of being a crook. But when the driver hears the music box play beautifully for the boy, he gives it to him. And that is the beginning of the end of Louie’s search.
Take a Closer Look
In Louie’s Search, Keats does what he does best, portraying the evolution of a child’s feelings as he moves through his world. At first Louie feels invisible, so he puts on “some funny things” and wanders, observing the adults unnoticed, until he gets the kind of attention he doesn’t want. When Barney the junk man loudly accuses him of theft, Keats deftly captures Barney’s anger and Louie’s fear with shadow and perspective. In Louie’s house with his mother to protect him, the scene is bathed in warm colors, patterns and light, and Barney, though bearded and wild-looking, becomes less fearsome to Louie. It seems that Barney is known and respected in the neighborhood, and turns out to be the perfect candidate for the father Louis has been looking for. The wedding scene, as Barney marries Louie’s mother, is wonderfully joyous, and Louie sits on Barney’s shoulders, belonging at last.