As Charles' father explains, ""Uncle Melvin is. . .special. . .He sees the world in his own way."" Some people think he's crazy, and he does go back to ""the Looney Bin"" each day after taking care of Charles while his parents are at work; still, Uncle Melvin knows how to take care of the house, fix things, and garden despite his odd and often interesting theories (e.g., that the US President is an iguana). ""In many ways he is the least crazy person I know,"" says Charles' father. Can he understand birds, or cause a rainbow? Perhaps, after all, he can. For Pinkwater, best known for his rambunctious humor, this is serious stuff: an affectionate portrait of an offbeat yet functioning person who may not be unusual to many children. In the poignant, brightly colored illustrations, Uncle Melvin is often surrounded by a cloud of heavy black scribbles--yet he himself goes cheerfully on his serene way. A book to ponder.