Is it because of Shulevitz' past work that this story reads like a fairy tale? A father who comes home having spent his last bread money on a map? Sounds like magic beans, right? And then the map's power over the boy to take him to new places? Beanstalk? I doubt Shulevitz saw these motifs, but as he simplified the story and decided how to tell it, he found the moments that make it a story interesting to tell. It's no surprise when a good story is well-organized by motifs that have made good stories for centuries!
I would probably call this a memoir rather than a biography, and it could provoke an interesting discussion about genre.