The Anti-Book

Raphael Simon, illus. by Ben Scruton. Dial, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-525-55241-3
Twelve-year-old Mickey, portrayed as pale and freckled in Scruton’s cartoonish b&w art, is constantly angry—at his 15-year-old sister Alice and her cruel 17-year-old bodybuilder boyfriend, at his divorcing parents and their new partners, at nearly everything. Then, in a pack of bubble gum, he finds a coupon for the Anti-Book, a blank journal with the inscription “to erase it, write it.” Whatever Mickey lists in the book vanishes: his house, school, and family, until he’s transported to the bizarre Anti-World, where he encounters twisted reflections—often opposites—of everything he erased. For one, his big sister is now little: three inches tall. To escape the Anti-World, the siblings must travel through the realms of Bad, Sad, and Mad to confront its ruler, the Bubble Gum King. With this fast-paced, humorous adventure, Simon (also known as Pseudonymous Bosch) explores the complicated interplay of negative emotions as Mickey learns to confront his shifting “states of mind” and cope with the world around him. Uneven writing strengthens once Mickey enters the Anti-World, and a subplot in which Mickey deals with “the word ‘gay’ (as a dis)” opens the door for conversations about identity and tolerance. Ages 8–12. Agent: Sarah Burnes, the Gernert Co. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 04/01/2021
Release date: 04/06/2021
Genre: Children's
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