An unpredictable tale of a surprising friendship.
Mr. Biddles, a feline inventor, builds various patented machines. His orderly if lonely world seems just right until an unexpected visitor, Hobson the lobster, appears on his doorstep. What begins as an assistantship soon becomes a friendship. When Hobson becomes homesick, Mr. Biddles designs the Super Lobster Sightseeing Sidecar for them to travel to see Hobson’s family. However, this quirky friendship story poses several unanswered questions. Hobson’s initial appearance, his intermittent need for an aquatic environment, and his sudden facility at invention complicate believability. Furthermore, a surfeit of inventions in the book reveals a missed opportunity. Just one detailed invention might have more tightly fastened the nuts and bolts of this unlikely friendship. Sophisticated vocabulary seems at times uncharacteristic: “tricked-out tank” and “cranked on the catnip diffuser.” Imaginative endpapers hint at distinctive mixed-media illustrations. One spread displays various inventions, sketches, and materials on a cluttered desk filled with details perfect for observant young readers. These details sometimes make it difficult to locate the text, printed on collaged-in scraps of lined paper, though. Some illustrations fall short: when Mr. Biddles extends a magnet toward his mailbox, the door remains closed, prompting readers to wonder whether his inventions work and whether he can indeed help his friend in need.
An unlikely duo in an unbelievable story that doesn’t quite feel well-constructed in the end. (Picture book. 5-8)