A wonderfully imaginative adventure involving a missing toy.

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A Whole Nuther Thing

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.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-9903086-1-4

Page Count: 28

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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