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ALIEN BRAIN FRYOUT by Barbara M. Joosse


by Barbara M. Joosse & illustrated by Sue Truesdell

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: Sept. 18th, 2000
ISBN: 0-395-68964-3
Publisher: Clarion

Matched to a hard-to-top title, Joosse’s (Ghost Trap, 1998, etc.) fourth neighborhood mystery featuring Wild Willie, with fellow junior detectives Kyle and Lucy, centers on puzzling changes of behavior in both a local bully and a parrot. It all begins when mean Chuckie Herman starts hanging around outside Lucy’s house, cleaned up, exuding cologne, making friendly conversation—in other words, showing every sign that his brain has been fried by aliens. Then Kyle’s parrot Scarface takes to making funny noises, and throwing up in Kyle’s hand. Aliens again? A trip to the vet, some clue-gathering, and consultation with adults suggests another possibility: love. Wielding pen and brush with characteristic vigor, Truesdell captures the detectives’ bug-eyed bafflement in a generous set of vignettes and larger sketches. As it turns out, Scarface is indeed expressing avian infatuation, and a more experienced cousin’s reassurance—“Love sorta rumbles around for a while. And then it passes. Like gas”—proves true for Chuckie, who reverts to his nasty old self in the end. Bright with high comedy and low, this unabashed ribtickler will find plenty of reluctant readers among its many fans. (Fiction. 7-9)