cover image It's New! It's Improved! It's Terrible!

It's New! It's Improved! It's Terrible!

Stephen Manes. Skylark Books, $3.5 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-553-15682-9

For his 12th birthday, Arnold gets his heart's desire, a pair of Helicopter Shoes, the latest in overpriced athletic footwear as advertised on TV. But his long hoped-for gift falls short of his expectations: he gets a killing blister and the tongue rips out of one of the shoes. Disgusted, Arnold heaves the broken sneaker at the TV screen when next he sees the Helicopter Shoes commercial. To his dismay, the screen shatters and Will, one of the kids in the ad, appears in Arnold's living room. Will can only spout commercial slogans and jingles at top volume, which gets Arnold in trouble at home and at school. For 24 hours, Arnold's life is a nightmare, until he and best friend Eddie figure out how to get Will back to his home in TV-land. This slim (98 pages) novel, with its one-note theme and compressed time frame, seems to be nothing more than a puffed-up short story. The richness of character and joyful exuberance evidenced in Manes's last work, The Obnoxious Jerks , is sadly lacking here. Ages 7-11. (Apr.)