January 18, 2011
Kid vs. Squid by Greg van Eekhout
by Greg van Eekhout
Bloomsbury Books, 2010
Thatcher Hill can’t believe his rotten luck. His parents are in Asia, touring squirt gun factories, but Thatcher couldn’t go because he’d been exposed to a kangaroo rat virus and can’t leave the country. Instead, he has so spend the summer with his weird Uncle Griswald at a seaside museum. There, his chores include watering the plants, feeding Sinbad (the cat) and dusting the shrunken heads.
The museum houses a collection of odd-ball items like an octopus in tennis shoes, a tiny headless “mermaid” that looks like it was created from half a monkey.
But that’s not all that’s strange in Los Huesos. One day the boardwalk community is a ghost town, and the next it is full of people, both tourists and oddly pushy workers.
Then someone breaks into the museum and steals the “What’s-It” — a box with a window that may or may not have a head inside. That’s when things really start to get weird.
Soon Thatcher is running the board walk with a princess from Atlantis (the thief) and a hard core detective (the only other ‘normal’ kid who lives on the board walk), trying to catch a witch and stop a curse before they can be captured by giant lobster men, a squid with human eyes, or the kelp men.
This book is seriously laugh-out-loud funny, from the array of twisted creatures to the dialog. Description comes on the fly as Thatcher and his friends tear across the land scape or down cluttered hallways, just enough to get you from one action packed scene to another. For character description, you’ll have to rely on what they do and what they say because no time is spent on narrative in this fast moving story.
With three main characters (one boy and two girls) this story has a certain appeal to both boys and girls but the humor is a bit gross at times so if you have a squeamish kid on your hands you might want to pick another book (hint: the What’s-It is actually a head in a box although she’s still alive even if she’s not kicking).
Every kid who has seen this book in my car or on the coffee table has commented on it and my son has requested that I not turn it back in until he’s had a chance to read it. Why not see if it can get someone in your house to start turning pages?