From the Publisher
“fast-paced and hilarious” — Booklist
“There’s plenty of set-up for future volumes; fans will hope they won’t have to wait long.” — Kirkus
“There are enough good lines to keep smiles coming frequently.” — School Library Journal
“A thoughtful adventure that will leave readers contemplating both the outer and inner workings of the universe.” — Bulletin of the Center for Childrens Books
“Loaded with laughs, imagination…a highly original novel that’s certain to appeal to reluctant and avid readers alike.” — The Repository
Bransford's debut is a by-the-numbers space adventure that mixes occasionally fresh zaniness with mostly familiar tropes. Sixth-grader Jacob Wonderbar is constantly getting in trouble, torturing substitute teachers with the (often unwilling) help of his best friend, nebbishy Dexter Goldstein. Their friend Sarah Daisy avoids trouble by virtue of being pretty, much to her consternation. When the three friends encounter an alien who offers to sell his spaceship for a corndog, they quickly accept, and soon find that they've destroyed the only route back to Earth (the titular "kapow"). Their adventures in space include encounters with a preteen pirate, a world where each day lasts a minute, and a world populated by substitute teachers. The goofiness is amusing if generally predictable, but Bransford does include some interesting character development late in the game (after he's played with unfortunate female and Jewish stereotypes, alas). The deus ex machina ending both resolves the plot and lays the groundwork for a sequel. Jennings contributes freewheeling b&w cartoons in keeping with the story's overall tone. Ages 9–up. (May)
“fast-paced and hilarious”
Bulletin of the Center for Childrens Books
“A thoughtful adventure that will leave readers contemplating both the outer and inner workings of the universe.”
“Loaded with laughs, imagination…a highly original novel that’s certain to appeal to reluctant and avid readers alike.”
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—When an interstellar visitor trades his spaceship for a corn dog, three kids zoom off for a series of amusing adventures beyond the solar system. They encounter goofy space cops, a bratty space pirate, and many other odd characters as they jump from planet to planet onboard talking spaceships. The quirky setting provides opportunities for playful humor, which sometimes falls flat but mostly hits the mark. On a planet that rotates once per minute, for example, inhabitants take naps every 30 seconds, making conversation challenging. There are enough good lines to keep smiles coming fairly frequently, and the consistently sardonic narrative voice keeps the tone appropriately lighthearted. However, character development is sketchy, and shifts to emotional issues involving Jacob's missing father and spats between the friends are generally unconvincing. The many chase scenes, narrow escapes, and acts of bravery are more comical than suspenseful, but usually not quite funny enough to be engaging. Appropriately cartoonish black-and-white illustrations are sprinkled throughout and these, along with the short chapters and brisk pace, add some appeal for readers in search of light, undemanding science fiction.—Steven Engelfried, Wilsonville Public Library, OR
Bransford's debut and the first of a series is an outer-space comedy of errors.
Sixth-grader Jacob Wonderbar is the bane of substitute teachers everywhere. When witchy Mrs. Pinkerton tries to get the class under control and somehow her precious mug is shattered, a sprinkler is triggered and the whole class erupts in screams...Jacob gets the blame and his mother has to pick him up. That night, commiserating with his best friends, Sarah and Dexter, they investigate a strange noise in the forest—and a man in silver offers them a spaceship in exchange for a corndog. Next thing the trio knows, they are taking a tour of the solar system aboard Lucy, an opinionated if slightly bored spaceship. Then there's a little accident that may involve the breaking of the universe. A space pirate, the eating of dirt, the universe's largest carbon allotrope and a snooty space princess all complicate the trip home...which Jacob isn't sure he wants to make. It's the Saturday-morning-cartoon version of Hitchhiker's Guide even if the laughs aren't quite so fast and furious (and some of them are a bit of a stretch).
There's plenty of set-up for future volumes; fans will hope they won't have to wait long. (Science fiction/humor. 9-12)