CITY OF NAMES by Kevin Brockmeier

CITY OF NAMES

Age Range: 10 - 12

KIRKUS REVIEW

A fifth-grader discovers that there’s far more to his small town than meets the eye in this offbeat children’s debut. When Howie’s school book club order arrives, instead of 101 Pickle Jokes, he gets The Secret Guide To North Mellwood—a fold-out map with recognizable buildings bearing strange labels: his home, for instance, is “Guddle,” the local video parlor, “Hurdy-Gurdy.” According to the instructions, all he has to do is rap on the eponymous statue outside Larry Boone Elementary School, and speak this “true name” to be instantly teleported there. To his delight, it works, though each trip produces a rotten-egg smell as a side effect; in no time, he and friends Kevin and Casey are zipping off to the arcade at night to rack up humongous scores, and the like. Then the next book order brings an Addendum, a plastic overlay with far more intriguing destinations, including an underwater chamber full of babies where Howie has a conversation with his about-to-be-born little sister, and the subterranean digs of Larry Boone himself, a half-legendary figure in town history who not only admits inventing the transportation system, but demonstrates that he knows—well, everything about everybody. Brockmeier never troubles to explain any of this, but to keep it all from getting entirely too strange, he folds in a bully, a budding romance, and other conventions. The result is a giddy but enjoyable ride with a whiff of mystery (as well as sulfur) that may leave readers regarding their own supposedly ordinary neighborhoods with new eyes. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-670-03565-3
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2002




SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

ChildrenTHE STRANGE CASE OF ORIGAMI YODA by Tom Angleberger
by Tom Angleberger