The Unbelievable Oliver and the Four Jokers

Pseudonymous Bosch, illus. by Shane Pangburn. Dial, $15.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-5255-5232-1
Unabashedly clueless Oliver is ill suited for two roles that Bosch (the Secret Series) slyly gives him in this raucous series opener. The first is magician, which he botches from the get-go, attempting a card trick using an incomplete deck borrowed from his cousin, who assures him, “You don’t need a full deck for most tricks. You’ll see, magic is easy.” (Or not.) After his friends, twins Bea and Teenie, discover that Oliver is the only third grader not invited to the birthday party of the richest kid at Nowonder Elementary, they manage to book him as entertainment. Flustered, he hies to a magic shop, where he picks up a mangy top hat that’s home to a wisecracking rabbit, Benny. The bunny helps Oliver in his second mismatched role, that of investigator (“Hey, Benny? How do you investigate?” he asks) of the theft of the birthday boy’s prized present. Portrayed in Pangburn’s peppy cartoons, unremitting slapstick scenarios augment the comedy, as do puns, miscommunications, and Bosch’s cheeky, meddling narration. Oliver finally redeems himself with a sleight of hand (masterminded by the rabbit underneath his hat and detailed at story’s end for aspiring magicians) that wows the partygoers. Ages 7–9. (May)
Reviewed on : 03/13/2019
Release date: 05/14/2019
Genre: Children's
Compact Disc - 978-1-984885-20-3
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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