cover image Bongo Fishing

Bongo Fishing

Thacher Hurd, Holt, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9100-7

In his first book for middle-graders, picture book author/illustrator Hurd (Bad Frogs) takes readers on a series of bizarre escapades for a light, quirky space romp. Jason Jameson's ordinary life gets a whole lot more exciting when he meets Sam, a little blue alien mechanic from the Pleiades, who travels through space in a lime-green 1960 Dodge Dart. After Jason helps Sam repair his "car" the two become fast friends, and soon Jason is hanging out with Sam and his wife, Edna, whenever they swing by Earth. Every visit's a whole new adventure, from manufacturing homemade fuel for the Dart (a messy concoction of broccoli, bubblegum, baking soda, and vinegar that "looks like someone's brains"), to rescuing Sam from the military and thwarting a deranged psychiatrist/conspiracy nut's plan to capture the aliens, "for the benefit of mankind." Hurd's b&w illustrations (including a mock photo of "Rosie's Desert Café and Hair Salon"), a galactic road trip, and bountiful silliness suggest a pleasing mashup of Daniel Pinkwater and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Ages 9–12. (Feb.)