cover image Crazy in Poughkeepsie

Crazy in Poughkeepsie

Daniel Pinkwater, illus. by Aaron Renier. Tachyon, $16.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-61696-374-3

Mick returns home from summer camp to find “a little old man” named Guru Lumpu Smythe-Finkel occupying his bedroom in Pinkwater’s (Adventures of a Dwergish Girl) jovial novel. Though Mick’s older brother Maurice brought Lumpu and his dog Lhasa home from his trip to the Himalayas, the guru takes Mick on as his apprentice. During their daily hikes, Lumpu—who insists that destiny led him to Poughkeepsie, N.Y.—teaches Mick to appreciate the innate oddness of his hometown. The pair are joined by Vern, Mick’s environmental activist friend from summer camp, and Molly, a new arrival from the Catskill Mountains who describes herself as “crazy... I’m not myself.” After encountering a ghost whale named Luna, the group embarks on a quest to guide the cetacean to her final resting place at the “whaley pearly gates.” Though outmoded language regarding mental health goes unexamined, this caper offers comical adventure, and Renier’s b&w illustrations exude classic comic strip aesthetics, admirably complementing Pinkwater’s straightforwardly told absurdist humor. Most characters cue as white; Mick’s family reads as Jewish. Ages 10–13. Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary. (May)