Two imaginative 10-year-old boys embark on a disbelief-suspending adventure in this second of a series.
Sir Seth, Sir Ollie and Seth’s “steed,” Shasta (his dog in a realer world), discover Puddlewater Pond is draining down into a netherworld, the Queendom of Claire, populated by short Khaboumians, the evil ogre Ooz, his tree-eating dinosaur and some almost-flying umbies. These creatures are coming into conflict, creating confusion, consternation and complete chaos. Most of the narrative consists of frequent alliteration, puns and embedded rhyming words that don’t scan into poetry. “Sir Ollie stuttered with surprise, his eyes the size of banana cream pies,” for example. A certain amount of this is amusing; after several pages, it simply becomes unbecomingly uneven, creating a nearly noxious narrative. Some of the concepts are strangely Seuss-like: The Umbies travel in pairs, under-umbies under over-umbies that use their apparently otherwise useless wings to provide shade for their under-umbies. Chuggamugga bugs, like mugs with legs, carry water for wayward desert wanderers. While the pace of the plot careens, its superficiality is strangely startling. Cartoonish black-and-white illustrations add an amusing aura to a plethora of pages.
The potential strength of this presentation would be as a read-aloud to grade-schoolers, who would, no doubt, enjoy the difficulties the adult reader would encounter, wading through all the wacky words. (Fantasy. 8-11)