JOHNNY ON THE SPOT by Edward Sorel


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 5 - 9
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In a wonderful, transporting story, set in New York City during the early 1900s, Johnny has just listened to the last gasps of his old radio. His family, living in a building under a bridge, can’t afford a new one. So Johnny asks a neighbor, Mr. Zaga, a man known to be an inventor, if he can coax life from the old box. Mr. Zaga confesses little knowledge of radios, but suggests they blast it with an under-powered time machine he is working on, and the radio starts to spout tomorrow’s news. Mr. Zaga warns Johnny not to tamper with the future, and Johnny must do some fancy dancing to thwart a bank robbery and to save a girl from a burning building, earning the moniker “Johnny-on-the-spot” from the local news establishment. Then he and Mr. Zaga make a boodle during a day at the horse races. When they return home, they find a new radio, a reward for Johnny’s daring exploits, and the old radio has gone out with the trash. Adults may quibble over the way Johnny and Mr. Zaga redistribute the betting world’s wealth, but it feels natural and right in this context. Sorel’s artwork acts almost as a time machine itself; it has the character and energy to lift readers from their seats and set them down in the Big Apple some 70 years ago. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-689-81293-0
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: McElderry
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1998