ARTHUR'S NEW POWER by Russell Hoban


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It's always disconcerting when a character created by one illustrator returns in the style of another, but Barton's offhand absurdity well suits this not-too-serious fable of electronic over-consumption. And Hoban does more than you'd expect with a story that begins when father Crocodile arrives home to find the fuses blown again and goes about unplugging "the electric toothbrushes and his reducing machine and his quadraphonic hi-fi. He unplugged the bedroom TV and the kitchen TV and the living-room TV. He unplugged the blender and the biofeedback and the Slimmo. He unplugged Emma's and Arthur's stereos, and he unplugged the Dracula"--this last being the Hi-Vamp for Arthur's electric guitar and the presumed chief cause of all the blow-outs. Mother and Emma manage okay in their unplugged headsets (life just feels more natural with them on) and Arthur, of all things, passes his time reading mysterious large library books; it's father, missing the news and driven crazy by the crickets, who plugs in at last. Later Arthur, explaining all the research, unveils his water wheel generator--but when the family eventually blows that too, it is Arthur who has learned to be content with playing his own quiet composition on his non-acoustic guitar. Though without the wicked twist that made Dinner at Alberta's a treat, it's a good sneaky generational joke, pulled off with cool.
Pub Date: Sept. 6th, 1978
ISBN: 0440401836
Page count: 52pp
Publisher: T.Y. Crowell
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1978


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