Books by Thomas McKean

MY EVIL TWIN by Thomas McKean
CHILDREN'S
Released: Dec. 1, 1997

A mildly amusing, extremely far-fetched take on the perennial adolescent desire to transform oneself. Jellimiah John Jensen gets the perfect opportunity to escape his dorky seventh-grade persona when his mother, a surgeon, transfers from Los Angeles to a town just north of New York City. His old school accidentally sends two transcripts—one in the name of John, as he had requested, and one in the name of Jellimiah. When the school principal expresses an interest in meeting John's ``twin,'' he sees her mistake and invents a new personality, acting the roles of the tough, rakish Jellimiah and the nerdy, sweet John on alternate days. A series of mishaps, deceptions, and ever-larger whoppers told to classmates, teachers, his mother, and the principal culminate in a class party where he switches identities after each dance. He solves his dilemma with a twist as unlikely as the rest of the plot, and rechristens himself J.J., integrating both his outrageous and clean-cut selves. Although this tale never actually lives up to the intrigue of its title, cartoonish characters don't slow the pace, and it may find readers among those who suspect that behind their own nerdy exteriors are miscreants yearning to get out. (Fiction. 11-13) Read full book review >
HOORAY FOR GRANDMA JO! by Thomas McKean
ANIMALS
Released: May 2, 1994

Grandma Jo is happily expecting a visit from little Lloyd (``He'll arrive next Tuesday on the 10:30 train, and he'll be wearing his new coat with the fluffy collar'') when she loses her glasses, which means she's unable to read either the letter saying that Lloyd isn't coming after all or a newspaper warning about an escaped lion. At the station, still missing her glasses, she mistakes the lion (who's fortunately not really ``angry,'' as described) for Lloyd and takes him home for an evening of comic misconceptions, all amusingly detailed in Demarest's expressively rendered cartoons. The lion becomes a hero when a burglar happens in (an unnecessary embellishment, but one kids will enjoy); it also turns out that he's perfectly amiable when fed enough ice cream. Fine light entertainment to keep the picture-book hour giggling. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
THE HAUNTED CIRCUS by Thomas McKean
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 12, 1993

In a weak sequel to Secret of the Seven Willows (1991), the Byram children again travel in time, restoring their amnesiac grandfather Timothy to his family and keeping beloved Bluebird Hall out of the clutches of nasty Horatio Snivell. At the behest of a spectral girl in antique dress and peculiar old Tamburlaine Furshadow, Edith and her cousins make three rescue attempts, meeting Timothy as a lad in a traveling circus and later as an adult. Though Edith fails to bring him into the present, she helps solve some burglaries (the culprit's an earlier Snivell) and saves his life during the London Blitz. She finally tracks Timothy down in her own time; Furshadow turns him back into a child and returns him to his parents in 1912. Because Edith repeatedly finds Timothy, and falls in and out of danger fairly easily, the little tension that does build seems artificial, while the plot hinges on contrivance and arbitrary ``rules.'' McKean offers an intriguing view of time as an eternal Now that is nonetheless capable of slow alteration; but when it comes to story or character development, he barely goes through the motions. (Fiction. 10-12) Read full book review >