A boy with a hyperactive imagination encounters a machine that can bring to life his zany ideas in an assured if manic debut.
Buster Bickles, who unfortunately looks like a crazed, one-toothed baby, has worn out the patience of his mom and his classmates with his exhausting stream of messy, makeshift inventions, such as a robot suit with eggs as eyes (for "eggs-ray vision," of course). Buster loses confidence after a disastrous episode at school but finds his purpose when his scientist uncle Roswell unveils the "What-if Machine," which can transform thoughts into reality. Soon, rocket-powered cows and invisibility powers are just the start of an action-packed and slightly dangerous day. It's hard to overstate the polish of the illustration and design, everything from the wild typefaces to the abundant background details and distinct character looks. Wasson is a veteran of animation for the likes of Nickelodeon and Disney, and the energized, go-for-broke style of the art suits his premise and shows his confident visual storytelling skills. There's little time for subtlety of emotion, but it doesn't much matter because the story moves so quickly through each bursting-with-activity page.
By the time giant robot dinosaurs invade the city, parents of kids with tornado tendencies may find much that is recognizable—and their young ones reading along may find a kindred spirit. (Picture book. 4-8)