THE SHUTEYES by Mary James


Age Range: 9 - 12
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 The pseudonymous M. E. Kerr appears once again under her second nom de plume, adopted for Shoebag (1990), a delightfully comical reversal of Kafka's Metamorphosis (to his horror, a cockroach becomes a boy). At first glance, this fantasy has similar satirical possibilities. Chester lives above the Dream Cafe with his mother, Molly Dumbello, interpreter of dreams. He adopts a parrot, Lornge (rhymes with orange); his friend Rita, ``whose father home-schooled her,'' has a limited education making soap from bacon grease or memorizing poems by Edgar Guest. Lornge takes Chester to ``Alert,'' where sleep is prohibited and even words that refer to it are regarded as obscene. He's assigned adoptive parents and does his best to adapt, but not without some surreptitious naps. A neighbor from back home turns up exhibited as a freak--a dread ``Shuteye''; Chester rescues, and is rescued by, an abused child with a complicated past. Finally, Molly also turns up in Alert, and they both make it home again, where Molly gets a contract for a book about their experiences. Here, unfortunately, the parallels between the two worlds don't result in much humor or insight, while sleep deprivation as a dogmatic philosophy just doesn't turn out to be funny. Contrived and pointless; concluding with Shakespeare's lovely words on dreams (from The Tempest) seems startlingly irrelevant. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-590-45069-7
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1993


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