Haunted by the ghosts of dead pets, a kid must right their wrongs.
All sixth grader Rex wants is a “real-live” pet of his own—preferably a chocolate Labrador. Everyone he knows has a pet. His best friend, Darvish, a “pet hoarder,” has four—maybe five. In answer to Rex’s constant pleading, his parents give him a “practice pet”: a chicken. One hour and 14 minutes after the chicken enters Rex’s life, it becomes a real-dead pet. Things go from bad to worse when, after losing a mysterious carnival game called The Reaper’s Curse he finds on the sidewalk, Rex can not only suddenly see the ghosts of dead animals, but speak to and understand them. The chicken—Drumstick—is the first of many to communicate with Rex. As a de facto animal “afterlife errand boy,” can Rex help these ghosts rest in peace? Reynolds’ new series debut is nonstop comedy, poking fun at everything from animal rights groups to the education system. Rex’s first-person narration—heavily unreliable and hyperbolic—smartly utilizes direct address to implicate readers in the ridiculous plot. Though several jokes only just toe the line, one punny reference to “spirit animals” goes a bit too far. Most of the human characters are white by default; Darvish is Pakistani American.
Laugh-out-loud ludicrousness. (Fiction. 8-12)