Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Turtles, Ghosts, Actors and Calamities

Although there are a great many children's books that I love, I hardly ever find one that I love so much that I find myself recommending it to adults right and left. I have one such book now though and I understand why my librarian friend stuck it in my hand and said, "You must check this out."

The kids and I are listening to it on CD in the car, and it is utterly hilarious, bizarre, and quirky. I can't quite get over how much I love it. The book is The Neddiad: How Neddie Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization by Daniel Pinkwater. The author reads on the CD and if you've ever heard him on NPR, you'll know he has a great voice. His delivery can be perfectly deadpan and serious in a way that makes me laugh frequently. Frankly, I'm not sure the kids love the book half as much as I do, although The Seven Year Old seems pretty into it.

The story is set shortly after WWII. Neddie Wentworthstein, a kid in Chicago and the son of a shoelace king, reads about the Brown Derby restaurant out in LA, mentions to his dad that he'd like to eat there some day and so his dad decides to pack up the family and move West, so that they can. Neddie gets on a train with his family and over the course of his travels to and in Los Angeles meets a shaman named Melvin, a ghost named Billy the Phantom Bellboy, actors, bad guys, and a mysterious, but powerful, turtle figurine.

I'm definitely buying a copy of the book at some point (we're listening to a library copy right now), so The Seven Year Old can read it to himself and Justin can also get a chance to read it, but I'm not entirely sure I'll love it quite as much when it isn't being read by Pinkwater. In print or audio though, I think Pinkwater has produced one of his finest books yet.

3 comments:

skinnydan said...

Oh, my dear woman. You have hit the motherload of quirky stuff. Assuming you haven't read any other of Pinkwater's stuff, of course.
I highly recommend most of his work. Yobgorgle and The Last Guru are two I think are fabulous for the Older Boy's age, and when he's ready, Alan Mendelsohn, boy From Mars and the two Snarkout Boys books are terrific.
I'll have to check out the new one.

Jordana said...

I've read some of his books before, but this is my favorite so far.

Patricia said...

I know we are supposed to adore none but God, alone, but Daniel Pinkwater has always been on the highest rung of the earthly ladder -- well, right below Mr Wonderful (tm) ;-)
If you're interested, the weekend edition story about The Neddiad is still up here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6205888

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