Undertown

Melvin Jules Bukiet. Abrams/Amulet, $16.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4197-0589-2
Adult author Bukiet (A Faker’s Dozen) makes the leap to children’s books with this off-kilter tale of two suburban youths who end up in the neverending, occasionally uncharted sewers of New York City. Timothy Murphy and Jessamyn Hazard barely knew each other back home in Montclair, N.J., until their parents started dating, but when a freak accident launches them and Timothy’s sailboat, the X-tra Large, into the sewers, they see an opportunity for excitement and adventure. As the two middle-schoolers elude the authorities, they encounter a talented graffiti artist, an identity-challenged homeless man, and a bizarre gang of subterranean thieves. It’s a coming-of-age escapade with a sense of wonder, and Bukiet pays homage to the history and mysteries of N.Y.C. with a writing style that’s part sentimental, part poetic, and part tongue-in-cheek. Throughout, Bukiet’s language and phrasings show a respect for and confidence in his audience, and if some of Timothy and Jessamyn’s conversations and observations come across as overly mature, they make for memorably entertaining protagonists, lost in a not-so- impossible world. Ages 10–14. Agent: Jennifer Lyons, Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/04/2013
Release date: 03/01/2013
Genre: Children's
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