Sixth-graders Delphine and Nate, aided by Nate’s talking dog, Bosper, evade the Red Death Tea Society, an evil organization that excels at both death and brewing, while trying to capture Proton, the family cat, which Nate made both gigantic and invisible.
Delphine Cooper, the likable Everygirl who narrates Tobin’s absurdly funny, gadget-filled adventure, is pretty, with ordinary brains and a million friends. Nate Bannister, her comic foil, is an eccentric loner who also happens to be an off-the-charts genius. And Bosper—well, except for his tendency to fart, he’s the best dog ever. The premise of the series is that every Friday the 13th, Nate does three dumb things that Delphine helps him to rectify. Although this series opener goes on too long, the comic circumstances Tobin creates are imaginative and funny: the supersized catnip incense burner Nate sets up to attract Proton also attracts every other cat in the neighborhood, creating further complications for Delphine, who is dressed as a very large mouse at the time. Both of the heroes in this series, which is aimed equally at boys and girls, are neatly characterized, and it’s clear why they become friends. Both are white in Lafontaine’s illustrations.
This winning, consistently funny, smartly silly adventure could be one of Nate’s kooky gadgets, a middle-grade reading attractor. (Adventure. 8-12)