“Walter isn’t a bad boy.” That’s what Walter’s mother always says…and she has to say it a lot.
Young Walter, self-named Clint McCool, never seems to do the right thing. He’s got a magic hat with buttons to help him think of good ideas, translate what adults say, and even change his face so he will not look like a smart aleck—but it doesn’t always work for him. With a plot that moves faster than Walter’s brain, the book takes readers along as he tries to find an escapade. His friends M.L. and Marco would like to play with him, but they aren’t as willing to risk getting into trouble as Walter is. His insistence on involving himself in a movie being shot in the neighborhood seems to be just another one of his bad ideas. As events escalate, his friends simply give up on him. Who can blame them? Sometimes he seems downright unlikable. When his mom asks if he is listening, Walter thinks, “Actually, I’m not. If Mom wants me to, she should talk about something interesting.” Really? Interior black, white, and blue illustrations depict all characters with paper-white skin and Walter with light hair; Marco and M.L. both have dark hair (his closely cropped and hers curly), possibly cuing them as children of color.
Busy and insubstantial plot plus only mildly amusing illustrations add up to very little. (Fiction. 6-9)