Friday, June 10, 2011

Fantastic Friday: Jacob Wonderbar

Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow
by Nathan Bransford
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2011
Grades 3-6
Reviewed from purchased copy.

I read this book during the 48-Hour Book Challenge as sort of a comic relief after the tearjerker I had just finished.  I figured it looked kind of fun and wacky, and it was.  What did surprise me a little bit was the level of writing and how the characters had more depth than I was expecting for a book that I thought would emphasize plot. Here's the blurb from the inside cover:

Jacob Wonderbar has had a weird day.  First there was that incident with the substitute teacher and the sprinklers. (Okay, maybe that wasn't so unusual for Jacob.)  Then he and his best friends, Sarah and Dexter, discovered a silver man and a spaceship in the woods near their houses. Weirdest of all? The man offered to trade his ship for a corn dog!  It sounded like a pretty good deal to Jacob, until he and his friends took their new ship for a test ride . . . and accidentally broke the universe.  Now they must fend off space pirates, escape a planet that smells like burp breath--and find a way back home, before it's too late for them and their friendship.

I must confess, books that turn teachers into villains irritate me to some degree.  Probably since I know so many teachers who work so hard to help their kids.  Plus, the substitutes I've met have been really nice. But Bransford made up for the wacky substitutes by providing a great teacher by the name of Miss Banks.  I also loved the idea of a separate planet where teachers can go on vacation. Sounds great! 

I wasn't really expecting the book to be all that believable.  I mean, breaking the universe?! But the story moves along at a brisk pace and soon the reader doesn't really care about whether the story is believable.  Jacob and his friends, Sarah and Dexter, don't just face strange planets, and space pirates, but also some severe tests of their friendship, which for kids this age is very real. So the characters can be related to, despite the wacky happenings.  Recommended for those who love adventure and a fun story.

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