The allegorical story revolves around Jack, a boy on the brink of puberty, who is spending his last day in a perpetual, kids-only playground.
He has apparently been there ever since he became aware of his existence, at about age four or so. On his arrival he was tattooed, and as the story opens this tattoo is starting to fade.
Once Jack realizes he is going to have to move on he spends the day tying up lose ends, and bidding farewell to all the other kids of various ages he has known.
As I was reading I began wondering if the book was really a children’s book. Was the story really about the end of childhood, or was it about the end of life itself?
The playground setting, and the names of the characters, seem to hint at an idealized childhood of the fifties or sixties, and perhaps there’s a very slight, nostalgic message about kids going outside, being away from their parents, and being involved in the kind of real play that seems to have disappeared with the digital age.
The ending really does establish the book as a kid’s book, but it’s hard to pin down whether it’s an older middle-grader or a very young adult story, and I think this is one of the great qualities of an allegory, in that the story is really what you want it to be.