cover image Alien Eraser to the Rescue

Alien Eraser to the Rescue

Marissa Moss, . . Candlewick, $15.99 (56pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-4407-9

Launching the Max Disaster series, Moss (the Amelia's Notebook series) again narrates through a journal, but this time with a decidedly male POV. Max, who plans to be a scientist like his parents, starts a notebook to record his inventions and sketch cartoons, including the exploits of an alien pencil-top eraser. Max's mishmash includes stories about his schooldays, cartoons, minicomics, asides and experiments (readers will learn how to make “Godzilla puffs” by microwaving marshmallows). But weaving together this funny, kid-savvy montage is the story of Max's parents' separation. Raw emotion is leavened by humor: Max worries, “If you take apart a family, can you put it back together in a way that makes sense?” and at one point he sketches a trio of “Happy-Marriages-R-Us Robots,” one of which features a “last-resort tranquilizer dart, strong enough to put ten elephants to sleep (or one raging parent).” Moss is a master at verbalizing kids' anxieties and channeling their astute observations of family life—both as it breaks apart and begins to mend. Also out: Max Disaster #2: Alien Eraser Unravels the Mystery of the Pyramids . Ages 8–12. (May)