Sometimes relatives are so weird that they seem to be from outer space. This one just happens to be from Mars.
When Teddy’s mother mentions Cousin Irv is coming for a visit, all he knows is that he lives on another planet. Irv lands and proves to be a bit difficult. He blames Teddy’s mother for giving “the worst directions,” eats everything in the kitchen—“in fact, he ate the whole kitchen”—keeps Teddy up at night with his loud breathing and listens “to the most horrible music.” Kaplan (Monsters Eat Whiny Children, 2010), a veteran cartoonist for the New Yorker and television writer (Girls, Seinfeld), pairs the wry text with spare illustrations executed in pen and ink with watercolor. Things take a turn when Cousin Irv takes Teddy to school. Irv finds out Teddy has no friends and decides to do something about it. The duo causes a stir at school, especially when Irv pulls out “his electromagnetic ray and vaporized a few things in the classroom.” The teacher bans the ray gun but as a result is vaporized as well. This spread is alarmingly effective: One side shows a close-up of a blue gun producing green rays, and the other is mostly blank except for a lonely pair of gray heels and pink streaks highlighting where the teacher once was. Soon Teddy finds more to appreciate in his eccentric relative, but then Irv returns to Mars, leaving Teddy quite lonely…until his dad has a change in work assignments.
Clever, but the sophisticated humor seems aimed at older readers and adults. (Picture book. 5-8)