An all-star tag team of 20 well-known children’s authors and illustrators offers an unsurprisingly episodic tale featuring two young circus performers fending off interdimensional invaders while discovering that they have parents in need of rescue.
With some contributors weighing in more than once, the 27 chapters (each with a different author and at least one illustration) take 11-year-old twins Nancy and Joe from a train racing toward a sabotaged trestle to a faceoff with an army of glutinous Eggy-Things and a happy reunion with parents trapped in the eggy dimension. In droll contrast to the relatively (and miraculously) coherent plotline, the large cast has a surreal flavor. The twins encounter in their travels an evil but narcoleptic clown, a “misfortune teller,” a talking pig, the parts of a dismembered robot, a forest outlaw with a butt where his face should be and like allies or enemies. First run in installments on the Web, the pro bono project shifts tone and atmosphere with the author, from Lemony Snicket to Natalie Babbitt, from Linda Sue Park to Nikki Grimes, from Jon Scieszka to Jack Gantos—and who would have guessed that Katherine Paterson would be such a dab hand at egg puns?—but never goes off on self-indulgent tangents.
In other hands probably a labored writing exercise; here, plainly a game, making pleasant entertainment even for non-participants. (Science fantasy. 10-13)