Chronically clumsy Oscar presents an easy target for bullies—until he discovers a magical anti-gravity solution.
After curiously following a raccoon over a hill, Oscar stumbles upon an overgrown, abandoned caboose that was evidently once the traveling headquarters of an old-time–y huckster named Dr. Oopsie. Inside he find bottles of a solution that, when applied, counteracts gravity—but only until it dries. This gives him and his best friend, Asha, the opportunity to do amazing things: spinning through the air, easily climbing tall trees, and, best of all, flying around clinging to the blades of a ceiling fan. But the anti-gravity solution can be dangerous, too, since it wears off abruptly. After Oscar and Asha discover local bullies vandalizing the caboose, Oscar angrily drenches the lead bully with anti-gravity solution then allows him to float away, leaving Asha and a guilty-feeling Oscar to explore (and didactically explain) the difference between bullies and “not-mean” kids. Bonet’s cartoonlike cover art and a pair of interior illustrations effectively play up a forbidding setting for the caboose. In spite of ceiling-fan fun, Peterson never fully limns the enchanting potential of anti-gravity applications. The conclusion hints at a sequel, which readers will hope comes with a more substantial dose of magic.
Although Oscar successfully resolves his bully problem and his clumsiness, the draw here is the magic, not the somewhat bromidic bibliotherapy. (Fantasy. 8-11)