REM WORLD by Rodman Philbrick


Age Range: 11 - 13
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Preachy, predictable tale of an overweight lad who saves the universe while gaining self-esteem—a large step back from

Philbrick’s Freak the Mighty (1993). The odd helmet that Arthur Woodbury, a.k.a. "Biscuit Butt," receives on his 11th birthday

projects him into another world—but because he doesn’t read the instructions carefully, he opens a crack in the cosmos through

which all-destroying Nothing begins to seep. Acquiring an inscrutable, monkey-like sidekick, Arthur is propelled into encounters

with froglike Frog People, winged Cloud People, and other residents of REM World, all of whom bolster his self-confidence

with platitudes ("You are whatever you think you are. What you believe yourself to be," etc.) and send him on his way to the

demon Vydel, who alone can tell him how to get back to his own dimension. Even readers uncritical enough to enjoy the

author’s lame efforts at wit—burps of epic proportion, avian monsters dubbed borons ("bird" + "moron")—will find Arthur’s

adventures so obviously freighted with Purpose as to be almost devoid of danger or suspense. Unsurprisingly, he has only to

envision home to be there—and when he wakes up, both the cloud of Nothing and his excess poundage have melted away. Look

for more engaging aliens in books like Annette Curtis Klause’s Alien Secrets and a far more memorable fat kid in Kimberly

Willis Holt’s When Zachary Beaver Came To Town (1999). (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-439-08362-1
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2000