Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow

Nathan Bransford, illus. by C.S. Jennings. Dial, $14.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3537-8
Bransford's debut is a by-the-numbers space adventure that mixes occasionally fresh zaniness with mostly familiar tropes. Sixth-grader Jacob Wonderbar is constantly getting in trouble, torturing substitute teachers with the (often unwilling) help of his best friend, nebbishy Dexter Goldstein. Their friend Sarah Daisy avoids trouble by virtue of being pretty, much to her consternation. When the three friends encounter an alien who offers to sell his spaceship for a corndog, they quickly accept, and soon find that they've destroyed the only route back to Earth (the titular "kapow"). Their adventures in space include encounters with a preteen pirate, a world where each day lasts a minute, and a world populated by substitute teachers. The goofiness is amusing if generally predictable, but Bransford does include some interesting character development late in the game (after he's played with unfortunate female and Jewish stereotypes, alas). The deus ex machina ending both resolves the plot and lays the groundwork for a sequel. Jennings contributes freewheeling b&w cartoons in keeping with the story's overall tone. Ages 9–up. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/28/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
Genre: Children's
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-101-50567-0
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-101-51507-5
Paperback - 290 pages - 978-0-692-42826-9
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