cover image Planet Tad

Planet Tad

Tim Carvell, illus. by Doug Holgate. Harper, $12.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-193437-7

Based on a column that Carvell, head writer for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, has written for Mad magazine since 2005, this episodic illustrated novel presents a year’s worth of blog entries from Tad, an underachieving, none-too-popular kid in the vein of Wimpy Kid Greg Heffley. Without a narrative arc, the book’s momentum comes from Carvell’s distinctive sense of humor. While Tad’s musings often feel like they’ve been pulled from the mind of a stoner at 2 a.m. rather than that of a 12-year-old boy (“You know what I bet would suck? If you died and went to heaven, but really hated harp music”), the target audience ought to find them hilarious. Amid familiar entries about family trips, a lawn-mowing business scheme, and a secret admirer, Tad watches a lot of TV, which lets Carvell riff on the pop culture pantheon, from Avatar (both the James Cameron and air-bending versions) to The Legend of Zelda. Holgate’s cartoon spot art, not all seen by PW, is a good fit, underscoring the awesomeness of an eight-horned unicorn or the absurdity of Hannah Montana’s “disguise.” Ages 8–12. (May)