The hazards of wish fulfillment come, as usual, home to roost when young Barry gets a chance to replace his parents with a new set.
A week before his 10th birthday, Barry hits his head in a fall and wakes in Youngdon, capital of the United Kid-Dom, where grown-ups eagerly vie to be selected by onesie-wearing children. Working down a previously compiled list of grievances against his original parents, Barry opts to try out a different set each day—and so goes from the dizzyingly aristocratic Rader-Wellorffs to a celebrity couple dubbed “Vlassorina” and a succession of other couples who let him try out sports and do whatever he wants, as well as openly favoring him over younger sibs who bear strong resemblances to his own sisters. Predictably, all prove disappointments, and he wakes up at the end a wiser, more loving son. Baddiel crams his pointed allegory with jokes that not only will likely fly past American readers, but display questionable taste: Barry dubs his sisters “The Sisterly Entity” in imitation of the hostile Arabic term for Israel, a teammate’s “Que pasa?” as he trots into Wobbly Stadium for a match with rival Boysnia-Herzogeweeny is dubbed “some kind of weird language,” and for his birthday party at the end he’s delighted to get a toy pistol.
Personal development, Three Stooges style. (Fantasy. 10-12)