cover image Tingleberries, Tuckertubs and Telephones

Tingleberries, Tuckertubs and Telephones

Margaret Mahy. Viking Children's Books, $12.99 (96pp) ISBN 978-0-670-86331-0

As zippy-and often as alliterative-as its title, Mahy's most recent rowdy romp takes place on Breakfast Island, where painfully shy (but, he proves, ultimately brave) Saracen Hobday lives with his spry granny, a retired ""detective inspector."" When she learns that the pirate Grudge-Gallows has escaped from prison, she hies herself to Antarctica to round up her age-old nemesis, leaving Saracen to fend for himself. After Granny sends him a ""peculiar plant in a plastic bag,"" the boy soon discovers the magic of the tingleberry, which thrives when its roots are buried in ice cream-and which manages to bring true love into Saracen's life. This thread of the plot will hold less appeal to many kids than the theatrical arrival of Grudge-Gallows (he has ""the voice of someone who had been eating gritty gravel mixed with gravy"") and his clamorous crew, who attempt to steal Saracen's diamond-studded, solid-gold telephone. But it all adds up to fun, at times frivolous farce. Ages 8-12. (Feb.)