The author most recently of the Bad series (Bad Magic, 2014, etc.) returns with a new series opener for somewhat younger children.
It’s clear he loses none of his comedic touch with this shift in audience. The narrator invites readers to the story of 8-year-old generous-spirited Oliver, a Jewish boy and a beginning magician. He hasn’t yet developed the confidence to pull off the card trick he’s rehearsing in front of twin friends Beatriz, or Bea, who loves games involving math and science, and Martina, or Teenie, who loves running and acrobatics. As encouraging as they are truthful about Oliver’s skills, the twins do Oliver a favor and get him invited to 9-year-old classmate Maddox’s birthday party, who invited everyone in third grade but Oliver. Oliver’s debut flops…and becomes a diversion for someone stealing the robot cat Bea and Teenie give to the tantrum-throwing birthday boy, who accuses Bea, Teenie, and Oliver of stealing said gift. The robustly multicultural cast—Bea and Teenie are Mexican-American and have two dads; Maddox’s gal pal Memphis builds architectural models; and Jayden, who’s drawn as black, is a tech whiz—is introduced naturally. With a talking rabbit on the lam, this amusing story of friendship, failure, and success (and an erupting candy volcano) neatly slips in vocabulary along the way.
Readers shouldn’t have so much ridiculous fun with a book as they do with this one. (Fiction. 8-10)