by Henry Clark
First Sentence: “The sofa wasn’t there on Monday but it was there on Tuesday.”
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Content: There was a bunch of bookish and cultural references that I don’t think a younger reader would “get”, but there isn’t anything content-wise (well, an angry dictator turning into a werewolf, maybe) that would be unsuitable for a younger reader. It’s in the middle grade (3-5th grade) section of the bookstore.
Friends River (he’s a guy; I wondered at first, too), Freak (not his real name), and Fiona all live at the edge of a huge underground fire that the town has nicknamed Hellsboro. If that’s not odd enough, one day when they’re waiting for the school bus, they discover a couch waitng for them. With a zucchini-colored crayon in between the cushions. Thus begins their adventure which includes an eccentric neighbor, a planet on the inside of a basketball (sort of), a computer/entity called Guernica, and a plot to enslave the human race.
And it seems that River, Freak, and Fiona are the only ones who can stop this from happening.
The best way to describe this book is an acid trip for kids. I know that sounds odd, but honestly, it’s the best description. This was jam-packed with odd TV and culture references (which, being an adult, I got), but it was more than that. I think it was meant to be funny — and it was, sometimes (the toilet hot-air balloon got a guffaw out of me) — but what started out as an awesome premise (a tessering couch that eats dust bunnies for fuel is pretty awesome) just kind of petered out. I kept reading it because it was SO unbelievable: what weird, trippy, insane thing was going to happen to the friends next. So, I guess on one level it succeeded: it kept me reading.
But in the end, it left me unsatisfied and shaking my head. It was quite the trip, though.
(Just for the record: because this is a Cybils nominee, I’ve been asked to make sure y’all know this is my opinion only, and not that of the panel.)