YOUNG ADULT NOVEL by Daniel Pinkwater


Email this review


This short, elementary-level practical joke begins as a parody of the banal young adult novel: in the first two pages 13-year-old Kevin Shapiro questions his fate in an alcoholism treatment center and establishes that his mother is in the madhouse, his father ""little better than a vegetable"" after an accident at the methane works, and his sister on the streets turning tricks. It's a relief to learn that Kevin Shapiro is not Pinkwater's main character but only the invention of his real subjects, a group of four undifferentiated high school students calling themselves the Wild Dada Ducks, who make up chapters of the ""young adult novel"" to pass the time. But the Dada novel that follows their first sample chapter is just a more elaborate put-down. When the Dada-ists discover that a real Kevin Shapiro is enrolled at their school, they take the surly, unprepossessing freshman to their hearts and decide to make him famous. Their flood of cards declaring Kevin Shapiro ""The Greatest"" results in his write-in election as student council president. Despite his ungracious acceptance speech--""I do not want to be on your stupid Student Council. Just leave me alone. Anyone bothers me, I'll bash his face in, see?""--Kevin becomes king of the school, inspiring a new comic-book-based art movement, Heroic Realism, that eclipses the Dadaists. But he puts up with his new status only long enough to get back at the Ducks: aided by a bodyguard of short kids in identical Donald Duck sailor hats, he has the whole student body, assembled for lunch, douse the Wild Dada Ducks with soggy Grape Nuts. Then everything fades back to normal. The disdainful Ducks had it coming, and so no doubt did the young adult novel--but is it funny?

Pub Date: March 1st, 1982
Publisher: T. Y. Crowell