Brooklyn fourth-grader Hank Wolowitz faces his worst Halloween ever when his invisible friend, Inkling, discovers that pumpkins are his favorite kind of food.
It's hard enough to keep the bandapat in the laundry basket a secret from his parents, his sister, Nadia, his downstairs neighbor Chin and his classmates. Just keeping him fed takes all the pay from his job at the family ice-cream parlor, and he's had to invent a top-secret project to explain all the squash he's been buying. When Inkling goes bananas and chews up Nadia's artwork—four intricately carved pumpkins—Hank takes the blame for the violence. Worse, although his father had promised to use one of his ideas for their special Halloween ice-cream flavor this year, they are advertising his sister's stupid candy crunch. Finally, he has no one to go trick-or-treating with. Hank’s first-person narration is appropriately self-pitying. But while his unseen pet can cause trouble, the bandapat also helps. Gentle humor and a realistic urban setting add interest to this solid middle-grade read. Unlike Hank, readers can actually see the bandapat in Bliss’ gray-scale cartoons. (Final art not seen.) Events of the first book (Invisible Inkling, 2011) are summarized early on, and Jenkins introduces her characters and the situation so smoothly that readers can easily start here.
Appealing any time of the year. (Fantasy. 7-10)