My Curious Uncle Dudley


Enhanced by Tony Auth's wry drawings, Barry Yourgrau's middle-grade fantasy of a boy and his magical, moon-touched uncle is at once humorous and poignant, nostalgic and timeless.

"Invicius Ponticius Supalicius . . . Magilili . . . Lililiculus?"

Duncan Peckle's young life changes forever the day his mysterious relative, Uncle Dudley of the great voyages, arrives in Mt. Geranium in his battered Panama hat and old tweed coat. No sooner do Duncan's parents leave him in his bungling ...

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2004 Hardcover New New in new dust jacket. BRAND NEW. Mint condition. No remainder mark. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 211 p. Contains: Illustrations. ... Audience: Children/juvenile. Read more Show Less

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Enhanced by Tony Auth's wry drawings, Barry Yourgrau's middle-grade fantasy of a boy and his magical, moon-touched uncle is at once humorous and poignant, nostalgic and timeless.

"Invicius Ponticius Supalicius . . . Magilili . . . Lililiculus?"

Duncan Peckle's young life changes forever the day his mysterious relative, Uncle Dudley of the great voyages, arrives in Mt. Geranium in his battered Panama hat and old tweed coat. No sooner do Duncan's parents leave him in his bungling uncle's care than a strange package arrives and the attic guest room is overflowing with the accoutrements of magical research (and one shrunken head). For eleven-year-old Duncan, it's the start of a summer full of marvelous misadventures — from accidentally summoning goblins to reversing invisibility spells, from unleashing a love elixir to zooming around on giant bubbles through the wild night air.

While under the temporary care of his "curious and marvelous" Uncle Dudley, eleven-year-old Duncan Peckle has a summer of adventures which include magic spells, goblins, and bubble-riding.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is my kind of book! Yourgrau and Auth are a perfect pairing. I am plenty jealous." — Daniel Pinkwater — Daniel Pinkwater
Publishers Weekly
Uncle Dudley, "a voyager with wizardly ambitions," rolls into Mt. Geranium in time to "act in loco parentis," as Dudley puts it, when 11-year-old Duncan's parents take a summer break. Duncan, the wistful narrator of Yourgrau's first book for young readers, realizes his parents' concern about leaving him in Dudley's care were well-founded when a newsletter's magic spell causes part of his uncle to disappear and turns a neighbor statuesque. When Duncan's fractious friend, Arthur, casts doubt on Dudley's exploits in "Valparaiso, Panama" (pointing out that it's really in Chile), the boy begins to realize his uncle's imagination is as vivid as his common sense is scarce. Uncle Dudley's reach exceeds his grasp most foolishly in love, when he falls for a married waitress with heartbreaking (for him) and near-disastrous (for Duncan) results. The biggest disappointment for readers may be that uncle and nephew-"two bungling peas in the same pod"-never do make magic successfully. Though Duncan muses that their summer misadventures finally caused his uncle to grow up, readers may wonder why a grown man would hightail it out of town without saying goodbye rather than face the music with Duncan's parents. Black-and-white watercolor-and-ink drawings, including a few double-page spreads, add cartoonish appeal to this pleasant, if not quite enchanting, read. Ages 9-12. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
It has been years since Duncan has seen his unusual Uncle Dudley. One day, during Duncan's eleventh summer, the voyager suddenly arrives in Mt. Geranium and settles into the Peckle's third-floor guest room. When Duncan's parents are called away on a trip a month later, leaving him in Uncle Dudley's care, Duncan doesn't know what to expect. What he discovers is that his uncle is a strangely captivating, charming and eccentric man with a tendency for some unusual and mysterious practices. It is to be a summer unlike any other for both Duncan and his uncle. They will be visited by rude goblins and high-born fairies. They will fly around in the night-time like the "bubble riders of old Nanking." They will see a shrunken head, and they will not see some very important body parts. To top it all off, they will have some misadventures with Metamorphic Compound and Love Elixir, requiring them to summon the renowned wizard-scientist Dr. Julius Feathergold himself. Maybe, just maybe, in the middle of all this chaos, the pair will do a little growing up. Barry Yourgrau has both a wacky imagination and a keen sense of how youth perceive the adults in their worlds. His story is a joy. Tony Auth's illustrations are a perfect, whimsical compliment to this inspired tale. 2004, Candlewick, Ages 8 to 12.
—Heidi Hauser Green
Kirkus Reviews
Take a world-traveling uncle with a penchant for potions. Add his enthusiastic 11-year-old narrator nephew, absent parents, a few grumpy goblins, and miscellaneous quirky characters. Mix well. The result, like Duncan and his Uncle Dudley's attempted adventures, doesn't quite turn out as expected. Rather than being a fun read, Yourgrau's story seems overstuffed with incident and oddly lacking in individuality. A disappearing spell gone wrong, two unrequited crushes (Duncan's on his cello teacher, Dudley's on a local waitress), the unintentional summoning of a pair of goblins, an abortive attempt to ride enormous bubbles across country, and a mishandled elixir of love are all crowded into a busy plot that drags just a bit. Characters and setting are too sketchily drawn to stir up much interest. Auth's pen-and-ink illustrations help to ground the story in time (Duncan's parents' car has tail fins) and offer amusing glimpses of characters and events, but can't compensate for the text's lack of focus. An unsuccessful experiment by an author known to take chances in his titles for adults. (Fiction. 9-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763619350
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2004
  • Pages: 224
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 7.82 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author

Barry Yourgrau's adult works include HAUNTED TRAVELLER, WEARING DAD'S HEAD, and A MAN JUMPS OUT OF AN AIRPLANE. A performer too, he has appeared on MTV and NPR. Of MY CURIOUS UNCLE DUDLEY, his first book for young readers, he says, "I've always been influenced by children's books — so I decided to write one myself. I remembered the exotic visits, when I was young, by my uncles from far away. And my own visits, as an uncle myself, to my nephew and niece. So I'm part Dudley, you see, and part Duncan."

Tony Auth's irreverent, incisive, and delightful Pulitzer Prize­winning political cartoons have appeared in the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER and other newspapers around the world since 1971. When he first read Barry Yourgrau's MY CURIOUS UNCLE DUDLEY, he jumped at the chance to illustrate it. "The eccentricity of Uncle Dudley, the cast of wacky characters, and the humane irreverence of the story really attracted me," he says. "I love all the magical mistakes and mess-ups, especially Barry's tender, amused look at the tolerance of children for the grownups in their world."

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Read an Excerpt

The voice was coming from above. The floor above me.

"Help," it was repeating, very calmly — almost dignified. "I say, help . . ."

I peered out into the hall. "Uncle Dudley?" I called, hesitantly. Silence. Then again, faintly:

"Help . . . I say. Help . . ."

My heart began to beat fast. I went to the door to the third-floor stairs. I opened it. I heard the cries, more clearly.

"Uncle Dudley?" I called back. "Hello?"

Unsure, I started up. I¹d never heard an adult calling for help before! I waited breathless outside the guest-room door. I called again. The cries repeated. I knocked. With a hammering heart, I turned the handle. I peered inside.

The shock I got was so, well, shocking, I don¹t remember if I was too paralyzed to scream, like in your worst nightmares, and only gasped.

But I recall for sure my hair stood on end.

There in the dim room on the dim plaid blanket, where yesterday one lonesome tiny head had sat, now sat a second. Regular size. Not a head exactly — a pair of shoulders, from which stuck a neck and a goateed mouth and a nose and cheeks and an ear.

And nothing else.

"Ah, Duncan, is that you? How nice of you to come," said Uncle Dudley's partial head. "Don't be alarmed. Well, I mean, don't be unnecessarily alarmed. You aren't,
are you?"

"Wh-wh-wh — " I replied.

"Just ran into a bit of complication, you see," the mouth went on. "Hoping you might lend a hand."

And it grinned, pleasantly.

MY CURIOUS UNCLE DUDLEY by Barry Yourgrau. Copyright (c) 2004 by Barry Yourgau. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.

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