Who Is Melvin Bubble?
Bruel (Bad Kitty ) proclaims, "This is Melvin Bubble," on the opening page, as a huge arrow hangs above the boy hero. Melvin looks friendly and unassuming enough, but according to the unseen narrator, the fellow remains a mystery, and the only way to find out the answer to the title question is to interview... well, anybody who will answer. What follows is a parade of characters, each one goofier and more improbable than the last, and all of whom reveal more about themselves than they do about Melvin. Dad calls him "smart, handsome, popular, a great athlete! Now that I think about it—he's just like me when I was his age!" His best friend thinks Melvin's "the coolest kid I know! He can whistle 'The Itsy-Bitsy Spider' through his nose!" and the tooth fairy just wants to kvetch about how Melvin's big head makes it a real pain to leave coins under his pillow. The straight-man narrator's wry comments may be most appreciated by older readers (e.g., when a beautiful princess dreams of happily ever after with Melvin, the narrator says, "You may be thinking of someone else"). Bruel, as always, builds terrific comic momentum, and his broad cartooning is the definition of zany. Precocious raconteurs will probably get the biggest kick out of seeing how the characters' rants and soliloquies literally push the limits of their dialogue balloons. A read-aloud treat—and fine inspiration for classroom biographies. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)