cover image ZARTOG'S REMOTE

ZARTOG'S REMOTE

Herbie Brennan, Author, Neal Layton, Illustrator

Brennan (The Mystery Machine) stretches an already slim conceit in this lightweight fantasy. A young creature from another planet breaks the rules ("It was absolutely forbidden to land on an alien planet if you were Zartog's age") and brings his spaceship to "a planet circling Sol in the Milky Way." There (on Earth), he briefly encounters a girl named Rachel and her dog, and unknowingly they switch their remote controls: Zartog flies off with the remote for Rachel's TV, leaving her with the remote for his flying saucer. Rachel uses Zartog's remote to best a trio of bullies (they pick on "little kids who were a different color than themselves," like Rachel). Meanwhile, Zartog's talking computer takes charge, spouting emergency code words and availing Zartog of a time machine (don't ask) in order to help Zartog fly his saucer back home. Sometimes Brennan's humor is subtle (Rachel's dog, Lord Percy, has a sad expression because "his mother had been frightened by a bloodhound"); often it is outré (when Rachel uses Zartog's remote to change the bullies into a series of animals, the list of transformations goes on for more than two pages). Final artwork (by the author/artist of Smile If You're Human) not seen by PW. Ages 7-12. (Apr.)