When a boy’s truck vanishes, replaced by a hockey puck, he longs to know why it disappeared and just where the new object came from in this rhyming picture book.
In this tale, a confused boy looks at the hockey puck that appears where his toy truck is supposed to be. “It sure wasn’t mine, and it wasn’t my mother’s; / it wasn’t my granny’s; it wasn’t my brother’s,” he explains. He tries hooking it up to a radio to analyze it (a book open to a page on UFOs and an interstellar poster in the boy’s treehouse give observant readers two clues about what eventually happens). Luckily, a traveler named Follansbee, who dresses like an old snake-oil salesman, stops by with the answer: when something disappears and another thing pops up in its place, it’s because the Hole Nuther, a curious creature who lives underground, has taken it. Nuthers like new things but always replace the objects they’ve taken, just to be fair. The Nuther, vaguely anteaterlike in shape, sports green and white striped fur and an affable disposition. The boy and Follansbee embark on a plan to entice the Nuther to take something else and return the truck. Unfortunately, the Nuther likes the vehicle as much as the boy misses it. After trying an assortment of treasures (and looking awfully brokenhearted), the boy accepts a gift from Follansbee’s elderly mother: a basket of Druthers, which look like jewel-bright paper cranes, sure to please the Nuther. When the boy wakes just before dawn, the Druthers have grown into glowing pinwheels, leaving a trail to not only the boy’s truck, which “looked better than ever,” but also to the Nuther, who has a final encounter with that hinted-at UFO. While at first the UFOs seem a bit tacked on, the inventive story delivers lots of charm as the plot gets even stranger, especially with all the clues in Fang’s (Tibby and Duckie, 2014) brightly colored images. The detailed, whimsical, and endearing illustrations show the boy experiencing a full spectrum of emotions. Definitely for the 4-to-8 crowd, this book can be read aloud at bedtime. Ross’ (Red Boots and Assorted Things, 2016) text scans smoothly, and beginning independent readers should find plenty of words they recognize among the fun, concocted, or uncommon ones like “Dingledong Dell,” “calaboose,” and “wallaby.”
A wonderfully imaginative adventure involving a missing toy.