By Daniel Pinkwater
Ages 9 to 13
Some books inspire you. Some books enlighten you. Books by Daniel Pinkwater just make you glad you know how to read.
Only Pinkwater would name a hero Neddie Wentworthstein and liken his adventure to the epic struggle depicted in "The Illiad" - hence the title. The time is the years following World War II, when television screens were small and people could be trusted to care for you if you were lost.
Neddie's father made his fortune selling the perfect shoestrings to the soldiers of WWII. When father and son discover the existence of a restaurant shaped like a hat, the whole family embarks on an elegant train ride from Chicago to California.
On a stop along the way, Neddie encounters a shaman named Melvin who entrusts him with a turtle carved from stone and warns him that he should always keep it with him. Neddie also misses the train.
Enter Seamus Finn, fellow traveler and son of swashbuckling actor Aaron Finn. He and Neddie strike up an immediate friendship, which makes being lost a lot less scary. Seamus and his dad are luckily traveling in the same direction and offer to take Neddie with them on to California, and the adventure continues.
Turns out that many dastardly folks are looking for that turtle. The most notable is bad guy Sholmos Bunyip. The turtle is saved once using a magic trick involving jelly beans, and Melvin re appears in various forms to run interference. Things get tougher before Neddie and the turtle get the chance to overcome the bullies and save the world. Yes, save the world.
Pinkwater is always over the top and this book is no exception. Reading it won't change your life, but it will make you smile - and there are so few books for young readers that are really about nothing more than that.
- Linda Ague, retired Eugene School District librarian
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|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Sep 21, 2009|
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