In yet another pallid imitation of Banks' The Indian in the Cupboard, a G.I. Joe doll causes a commotion when he comes to life. Nicole, 11, activates the doll with a potion that she mixes from a discarded chemistry set. Joe quickly enchants Nicole's family and best friend with his penchant for Ring Dings and the electric pencil sharpener; troubles arise when he learns to talk (by watching Wheel of Fortune) and repeats everything Nicole says--like off-the-cuff remarks about her friends. Joe gets into some mildly funny scrapes (a swim in a fish tank, a crush on a snooty Barbie doll); in the end, the formula wears off, and he reverts to dolldom. Delaney's tale is not without humor, but it lacks depth. The characters are as flat as TV sitcom types--you can almost hear the laugh track. Nicole does learn some superficial lessons about ""parenting""--lessons transparently designed to give her more understanding of her own family's problems (divorced parents, rebellious older brother). But the lack of originality in the story is glaring.