Patrick Griffin’s second adventure seems to start over with every chapter.
Almost every chapter features a different character or a different location. Often, the character is a jackalope or a griffin or a numbat, which is a type of marsupial that sometimes enjoys Twinkies. Once in a while, Rust throws in a musical number or a pointed speech about politics. After Patrick disappears mysteriously from their home, his sister trenchantly points out that “most of the kids who go permanently missing that we don’t hear about aren’t from Westchester….And probably aren’t white.” (Although the races of human characters are almost never mentioned in the text, Patrick is explicitly described as a “rich, white, suburban kid.”) Every new chapter provides a clear introduction to the myriad characters, which may make the story a bit more accessible to people who haven’t read the first book in the trilogy. They’ll still be lost, though: the plot involves three parallel worlds, Earth, Ith, and Mindth (named after ears, eyes, and minds), and a cunning villain who’s put them all in danger. Parker’s precise, technical drawings of the various creatures help to clarify things, but only a little. The multiple plotlines keep the book unpredictable, but it also feels fragmented.
The jokes, however, have improved since the first volume, and kids with a taste for weirdness will be eager to start again with Book 3. (Science fiction. 8-12)