cover image The Ice Cream Machine (Tales from the Multiverse #1)

The Ice Cream Machine (Tales from the Multiverse #1)

Adam Rubin, illus. by Daniel Salmieri et al. Putnam, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-593-32579-7

In this madcap middle grade debut billed as six “wildly different stories with the exact same name”—each illustrated by a different contemporary artist—Rubin (Gladys the Magic Chicken) varies genre, setting, and subtitle in tales that all feature ice cream as an integral component (and “have a half a dozen little wormholes in common, too”). In “The Ice Cream Machine (the one with the ice cream eating contest),” illustrated by Charles Santoso, sisters living in a community of anthropomorphized animals clandestinely enter a contest to unseat the unpopular champion. In Liniers-illustrated “The Ice Cream Machine (the one with the genius inventor),” a mechanically minded kid coaxes a loved one to cognizance, while “The Ice Cream Machine (the one with the sorcerer’s assistant),” illustrated by Nicole Miles, offers a gross-out medieval fantasy retelling. Via a varied cast of characters, impish humor, and largely upbeat endings, Rubin underlines the idea, outlined in an introduction, that “writing is magic.” Though the collection offers little innovation, the result is comforting, entertaining, and uniformly funny. A seventh chapter invites readers to create a story of their own; back matter includes a recipe and instructions to make ice cream without mechanical assistance. Ages 8–12. Agent: Jennifer Joel, ICM Partners. (Feb.)