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by Keith Graves & illustrated by Keith Graves

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-439-24083-2
Publisher: Scholastic

“OK, so I’m Uncle Blubbafink. Hello already. I hear you’re looking for a good story or two. Well, you came to the right place.” This assertion is highly debatable. Uncle Blubbafink, a balding, squatty individual with deeply purple skin and a black-and-white striped trunk instead of a nose, certainly has stories to tell, but they stop short of being “seriously ridiculous,” managing instead to be seriously unfunny. Graves (Pet Boy, p. 109, etc.) here attempts the sort of zany hijinks perfected by Scieszka and Smith but delivers a tedious round of busily and brightly illustrated stories about Abraham (“Honest Ham”) Sandwich and George Washing Machine and the mysteriously chopped-down ham trees; Smoky, the baby volcano who was raised by chickens; and Dave, the dragon who ate so many used-car parts his head turned into a station wagon. Clearly the reader is expected to delight in these flights of illogic, but there is so little underpinning to them that they exist in a referential vacuum and thus carry very little humor. The book designer also clearly takes the Scieszka/Smith collaborations as a model, allowing the typeface to change color, size, and font in rapid succession, swooping around the pictures with abandon. The illustrations themselves are competent, and some, such as the image of a grassy moon covered with munching cows, are mildly humorous. Make no mistake: the same kids who love Captain Underpants may well revel in Uncle Blubbafink. But it’s hard to imagine an adult able to bear reading it to them. (Picture book. 7-10)