I just read a most unusual and intriguing book. Not since "Holes", have I found a book as creative, funny, imaginative, mysterious, moving and clever as this new book. Now, before I mention the name of the book, suffice it to say that it was not the name of the book that enticed me to read it. The book continued to surface and resurface as outstanding in other book reviews. So, with some hesitancy, I decided to take the plunge. And I never came up for air until I read the entire book at one sitting. "The Nose From Jupiter", is Richard Scrimger's first book for children and takes place in Cobourg, Canada.
As soon as you begin reading, you find thirteen year old Alan in a hospital bed not remembering why he's there, but realizing almost immediately that his head aches. He gradually puts together the pieces of what happened to him as you read through the book. Mr. Scrimger has woven Alan's life, leading up to his accident, in alternating chapters. But, he does this very skillfully. You always know when you are reading the present time when Alan is in the hospital. By this innovative writing, you help Alan begin to solve the mystery of what happened to him.
Now enters another element into the story, an alien. Norbert is his name and this is not just your ordinary alien, but a very tiny being who knows English as well as many other languages. He says he knows so many languages because he received radio and television communications while coming all of the way from Jupiter. Norbert landed on, or should I say in, the deep "garage" part of Alan's nose. You might wonder if this part of the story really works. But as far fetched as it sounds, it does. Norbert can be heard talking by others, but not seen. When the 7th grade bullies begin to push and shove Alan, Norbert talks back to them. They think Alan is doing the talking. And, of course, Alan is petrified of what's going to happen to him. But this encounter will have the reader laughing out loud and cheering Alan and Norbert on. Mr. Scrimger is a master story teller. He has pulled off something almost unbelievable and made it a very entertaining story. There are even some fairly strong issues that deal with Alan and his divorced parents. He also has a beautiful description of life in this quaint little river town. This book will be good for 10 years of age and older.
"Marsupial Sue", by John Lithgow, is a darling picture book about a kangaroo who is tired of hopping. "It rattled her brain, it gave her a migraine, a backache, side ache, tummy ache, too." So, she decided to leave her family of marsupials and find animals that would lead her to a better life. She finds that living in trees with the koala bears is not for her due to the weight of her body on the delicate branches. After falling to the ground, she continues with her search for other animals. Sue comes upon a platypus sleeping near the ocean. She goes into the ocean and discovers, all too soon, that this isn't the life for her either.
You'll delight in the sing-song pattern of the rhyming throughout the book as well as the bright, bold pictures of these various Australian animals. In fact, the words are put to music in a CD in the back cover of the book, as well as the musical score on the last two pages. Children as young as 3 will enjoy the music. The book itself will be great for any 3 or 4 years of age through 7. This is John Lithgow's second book. His first book, "The Remarkable Farkle McBride", is a delight also!
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