Will breaking a world record break up long-standing friendships?
Ten-year-old Teddy Mars is obsessed with the Guinness Book of World Records. He’ll even be in the next volume for sleeping in a tent the longest for a person under 12. World records are always on his mind. When his teacher announces the school’s annual invention fair—and her deep desire to win, for once—Teddy’s constant attempts to plan another record get between him and his best friends, Lonnie and Viva, since they have to work in different invention groups. Despite his dislike of group records, Teddy, his new partners, and his old friends decide to break the record for plastic bags collected in secret, while working on their inventions, but disagreements threaten their plans. Meanwhile, Teddy’s home life with preoccupied parents, five needy sisters, and a brat of a little brother (nicknamed “The Destructor”) complicates matters to no end. Burnham’s second Teddy Mars title is chock-full of more quirky records, many straining to act as comparisons to events in Teddy’s life. Even records enthusiasts may find it tiresome. In this trying-to-be realistic tale, Teddy’s family is played for over-the-top laughs, but, like much of the novel’s other humor, it’s trying too hard. Teddy and Viva appear to be white in Spencer’s illustrations, while Lonnie is black; their fairly diverse classroom includes a Cambodian immigrant.
Unlikely to break any records for winning new fans. (Fiction. 8-11)