Can a crayon save the world? Maybe with the help of a domino and a sofa….
River lives with his aunt Bernie outside the town of Cheshire. He and his friends Freak and Fiona live in the last three houses still inhabited in the Sunnyside development. The rest were abandoned or obliterated by the local coal-seam fire that’s been burning for 12 years…long enough to get its own name: Hellsboro. When a beat-up green sofa appears at their bus stop in front of Old Man Underhill’s house, the three make use of it as a lounging spot…until they find a rare zucchini-colored crayon between the cushions and discover that the Underhill house has a new and more than slightly bizarre occupant. Alf (and his sentient sofa) enlist the trio’s help in trying to stop a takeover of Earth by a dictator from another realm. What do the local chemical plant, mysterious flash mobs and the deaths of River’s parents have to do with the dictator’s plans for Earth? Clark’s debut is refreshingly bonkers. It offers thinking kids humor that is neither afraid of the potty nor confined to it. Most of the characters (and some of the furniture) have their quirks, but there is a realism at the core that readers will respond to.
Puns and wordplay abound in this droll science-y/fantasy adventure that’s sure to please...and is, one hopes, the first of many from Clark. (Humor. 9-14)