The Neddiad: How Neddie Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization

( 19 )

Overview

Bestselling author Daniel Pinkwater's story of how Neddie, a shaman, a ghost, three pals, and a maneuver known as the French substitution determine the fate of the world.

Melvin the Shaman. Sandor Eucalyptus. Billy the Phantom Bellboy. Daniel Pinkwater's weird and wonderful tale of Neddie Wentworthstein's quest to save civilization features some of the most unique heroes and villains a reader could hope to meet. Despite the heavy responsibility that Neddie must carry (not every ...

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The Neddiad: How Neddie Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization

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Overview

Bestselling author Daniel Pinkwater's story of how Neddie, a shaman, a ghost, three pals, and a maneuver known as the French substitution determine the fate of the world.

Melvin the Shaman. Sandor Eucalyptus. Billy the Phantom Bellboy. Daniel Pinkwater's weird and wonderful tale of Neddie Wentworthstein's quest to save civilization features some of the most unique heroes and villains a reader could hope to meet. Despite the heavy responsibility that Neddie must carry (not every kid is charged with rescuing humankind from doom), his story is hilarious, warm, welcoming, and sweet.

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Editorial Reviews

Elizabeth Ward
A lot of these period references will be lost on kids (Dizzy Gillespie and "Nights in Tunisia," anyone? Scalloped Chicken Paprika with Noodles Polonaise?). But Neddie's pitch-perfect rendition of that '40s voice—a tad formal, a smidgen hardboiled, faintly tongue-in-cheek—should charm even the most jaded 12-year-old.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

In Pinkwater's (The Hoboken Chicken Emergency) wonderfully silly book set in the late 1940s, young Neddie Wentworthstein mentions to his father that he wants to eat in the famous restaurant shaped like a hat. Never mind that the Brown Derby is in Los Angeles and the family lives in Chicago—Neddie's eccentric father (who made a fortune selling shoelaces during WWII) also wants to eat there, so he packs up the family for a cross-country train ride to make California their new home. Neddie gets separated from the family in Flagstaff, Ariz., and meets a movie star's son, a friendly ghost and a shaman who gives Neddie a carved stone turtle. Neddie learns that the turtle "keeps things from getting out of order," a kind of "evolutionary compass." Trailed by the sinister Sandor Eucalyptus (aka Nick Bluegum), the young hero switches the turtle with a fake in a taxidermist's shop but Sandor simply purchases it, not knowing he's snagged the real thing. Police from outer space, and a prehistoric earth spirit figure into the finale of an evil plan concocted in the Hollywood back lots. The author creates secondary roles as interesting as the starring characters. Even if there were no quest at the heart of the tale (and there is a good one) this would be a highly entertaining road trip—thanks to Pinkwater's one-of-a-kind comic sensibility and his uncanny ability to access the language and mindset of boys. Ages 10-up. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
KLIATT - Paula Rohrlick
On a whim, Neddie Wentworthstein and his family move from Chicago to Los Angeles in the late 1940s. They take the Super Chief train across the country, and at a stop in Albuquerque Neddie is given a carved stone turtle by Melvin the shaman and told to guard it carefully. Left behind accidentally in Flagstaff, Neddie meets Seamus, the son of famous actor Aaron Finn, and also a friendly ghost named Billy. At the Grand Canyon, a sinister man named Sandor Eucalyptus tries to steal the turtle, but Neddie manages to hang on to it. Arriving in Los Angeles, Neddie enjoys exploring its wonders, from eating in "The Hat" to the La Brea Tar Pits (which of course translates to "the the tar tar pits," as Neddie delightedly points out), and he enrolls in the same military school as Seamus, filled with the sons of movie stars and producers and also a nasty bully. But evil beings are still after the turtle, which has magical powers, and Neddie must use it to help avert a terrible calamity. The ending is a bit abrupt, but this amiable, old-fashioned adventure saga by the droll and prolific Pinkwater is a lot of fun to read, full of unexpected plot twists, LA atmosphere, and goofy names. Young readers may not get all the wordplay (e.g., the title, sound-alike Aaron Finn) but they're sure to enjoy the ride.
Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Daniel Pinkwater is back on track again—literally—once more plumbing the depths of his selective childhood memories. It's about 1947 and Neddie Wentworthstein is enjoying the fruits of his father's financial killing from cornering the wartime market in shoelaces. Yes, folks, the "Shoelace King" is taking his family and parakeets across country by train to resettle in Hollywood. Young Neddie, being of an inquisitive mindset, makes friends with Melvin the shaman in Albuquerque and misses the train in Flagstaff, where he is befriended by a swashbuckling actor and his son Seamus—not to mention Billy the Phantom Bellboy. The plot thickens when Sandor Eucalyptus tries stealing Neddie's frog shaman-gift in an airplane over the Grand Canyon, and then…But you'll have to tune in for yourself. As always, Pinkwater's best moments are the surreal throwaways: the threat of torture by angry scorpions and tinned anchovies; the curing of a tree-hating bully through pseudo-psychoanalysis; stumbling across the first McDonald's in the middle of the desert. And as always, it's worth the price of admission for these mind games. That covers the adult readers. As for the kids? It's good to have a new book to introduce a whole new generation to Pinkwater-mania.
Kirkus Reviews
Pinkwater bills this tale of a lad who saves the post-WWII world from a sudden reversion to the Pleistocene Epoch as his best work yet. He's right-for about the first third. When his well-heeled family boards the Super Chief for an impulsive move from Chicago to Hollywood, Neddie experiences an America rich in marvels, from elegant Pullman Porters and fellow passengers with colorful (if, Ned suspects, fictive) pasts to stunning natural wonders. A stranding in Flagstaff only adds to the adventure, as he falls in with the son of a renowned movie star and gets a car ride the rest of the way to California. He also meets a shaman named Melvin who hands him a small carved turtle that must be kept safe. Ned's compelling sense of wonder and delight at each new sight or encounter positively propels his account of the cross-country journey along. But once he arrives in L.A., it begins to sputter, because aside from the odd and often surreal diversion, he and some new friends spend the next 200 pages essentially waiting around to find out just why that turtle is so important. Pinkwater is putting up a chapter a week on his website, and should be about halfway along to the mystical climax by the book's publication date. Even confirmed fans might want to stick with the online version, tune out for a month or so and then tune back in to see everyone receive just deserts. (Fantasy. 10-13)
From the Publisher
...plenty of funny lines and scenes, though, and fans of Pinkwater will probably enjoy this messy, entertaining enterprise." Booklist, ALA

"The author creates secondary roles as interesting as the starring characters. Even if there were no quest at the heart of the tale (and there is a good one) this would be a highly entertaining road trip—thanks to Pinkwater’s one-of-a-kind comic sensibility and his uncanny ability to access the language and mindset of boys." Publishers Weekly, Starred

This amiable, old-fashioned adventure saga by the droll and prolific Pinkwater is a lot of fun to read, full of unexpected plot twists, LA atmosphere, and goofy names.
KLIATT

"Ned's compelling sense of wonder and delight at each new sight or encounter positively propels his account of the cross-country journey along." Kirkus Reviews

The first-person narrative's relaxed pace leaves ample room for Pinkwater's affectionate descriptions of the old movie house, the doughnut shop (where certain extraterrestrial fat men make a cameo appearance), the La Brea tar pits, and other interesting landmark of Neddie's L.A. neighborhood. Readers looking for a nail-biting thriller won't find it here; but those who do get drawn into Pinkwater's portrait of old Hollywood, embellished with loopy supernatural intrigue, will devour it like a double-chocolate doughnut.
Horn Book

"The title of this book ought to give you an idea of its goofy wonderfulness....What makes this book so delightful-apart from the zaniness of the storyline—is the author's lively, humane wit." The Wall Street Journal

"Pinkwater, master of nostalgia-tinged satire (or is it satire-tinged nostalgia?), sets this very funny encomium to the '40s in a swath of America stretching from Chicago to L.A....Neddie's pitch-perfect rendition of that '40s voice—a tad formal, a smidgen hardboiled, faintly tongue-in-cheek—should charm even the most jaded 12-year-old." The Washington Post

"Fans of Daniel Pinkwater’s laugh-out-loud fiction will savor the tale of Neddie Wentworthstein, whose family moves to Los Angeles from Chicago. Invite kids to check out the novel’s Web site (www.pinkwater.com/theneddiad) for a peek at original drafts—perfect for a lesson on revision." Instructor, Scholastic, Inc.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547133676
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 2/16/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 365,591
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Pinkwater is crazy about writing, and has been trying to learn how to do it for fifty years. He has written about a hundred books, all but two or three of them good. People who own radios may know Daniel Pinkwater as a popular commentator and children’s book reviewer on National Public Radio. At one time, he lived in Los Angeles, went to a fancy private school with the children of movie stars, and ate in The Hat numerous times. He lives with his wife, the illustrator and novelist Jill Pinkwater, and several dogs and cats in a very old farmhouse in New York’s Hudson River Valley.

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Read an Excerpt

The Neddiad


By Daniel Pinkwater

Houghton Mifflin Company

Copyright © 2007 Daniel Pinkwater
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-618-59444-3


Chapter One

We Take the Train

I didn't always live here. And by "here" I do not mean the La Brea Tar Pits, where I am writing this down in a notebook-I mean Los Angeles. When I was a little kid I lived in Chicago.

On Wilshire Boulevard, in Los Angeles, there is a restaurant shaped like a hat. It is called the Brown Derby, and that's what it looks like-one of those derby hats, with the round top and the little brim all around. There is a sign outside that says eat in the hat. And people do. I knew about this because I saw pictures in Look magazine. The pictures showed the restaurant, the eat in the hat sign, and two movie stars-I think it was Bette Davis and Laird Cregar-inside the hat, eating cheeseburgers. They were eating cheeseburgers with knives and forks! This was interesting too. I had only found out about cheeseburgers a short time before-and had actually eaten only two of them. I did not know that some people eat them with knives and forks, but I thought of them as grown-up and sophisticated food even before learning that movie stars ate them.

Anyway, when I read about the Brown Derby and saw the pictures, it became one of my life's ambitions to eat there. I have to confess, I was not clear about exactly where Los Angeles, California, was-if it was not too far,maybe I could get my father to drive us over one day in the Buick. So I mentioned it to my father, and I learned two things. I learned that Los Angeles, California, of which Hollywood is a part (the reason that movie stars eat in the Brown Derby), was way out West, and it took more than two days to get there by train.

The other thing I learned ... Well, this is what my father said: "Neddie, my boy! It is also my lifelong ambition to eat in the restaurant shaped like a hat!" And this is what he said next: "Not only will we eat in the hat, we will all go and live in Los Angeles, California! We can eat in the hat all the time, and pick lemons off the trees, and live in the sunshine."

A week later, we had packed up our clothes, moving men had come and taken away the furniture, I had said goodbye to my friends forever, and my father, my mother, and my sister, Eloise, and I were on the Super Chief, which is a fancy deluxe train that goes from Chicago to Los Angeles. You might think there was something weird about my family-my father, anyway-and there is. He is unpredictable and tends to do things that surprise people, until they get used to him. My mother seems normal at first, but she's married to him and always goes along with his ideas-like the parakeets, for instance.

I bought a parakeet for ninety-nine cents at the dime store. Little blue parakeet. I named him Henry. At the back of the dime store they have this pet department: goldfish, canaries, and parakeets. The usual price for parakeets is a dollar and a half, but they sell the shrimpy ones for ninety-nine cents. A dinky wire cage costs twenty-five cents, and the guy in the pet department threw in a box of birdseed for free. My father thought Henry was the greatest thing he'd ever seen, and a week later he came home with eleven more, a big cage with a parakeet playground, ladders and bells and perches and mirrors, a book on parakeet care, and bags and bags of stuff for them to eat. After a week of playing with the parakeets and reading up on them, he made it my job to take care of them: clean the cage, spray them for mites, smear Vaseline on their feet-also, I was supposed to train them to hop onto my finger, and teach them to talk. The talking never worked out- probably because we had so many of them. The book said that in order to teach a parakeet to talk, you needed to isolate it and repeat whatever word you wanted it to learn while it was going to sleep at night, and again the first thing in the morning. With a dozen parakeets, they just talked to one another, chirping and whistling and screaming.

I didn't mind being the family parakeet-keeper, but it was a lot of work. Also, I felt sorry for my parakeet, Henry, because all my father's birds were bigger, and they picked on him and made him miserable. My father liked to let them fly around the apartment, the whole flock of them, whirring through the air and pooping on things. When it was time to put them back in their cage, I had to catch them one by one, which wasn't easy.

What worried me was that he might bring home more parakeets-or something worse. Sometimes he would talk about monkeys. "I am looking for a monkey," he would tell me. "I just missed getting one-no bigger than this," he told me, showing me with his fingers how little it was. "When I went back to the pet store, someone had bought it. But don't worry, Neddie. We will find a monkey."

I did worry. I worried a lot. I worried that he would find not one monkey but twelve monkeys. Those were going to be hard to catch-and they probably bit a lot harder than parakeets.

"Don't you think it would be nice to have a dog?" I asked my father. "Just a regular dog?"

"You should have seen this monkey," my father said. "He was just like a tiny person."

I think maybe there was already a plan to move to Los Angeles and everybody just forgot to tell me about it, or maybe not. My mother was used to my father, as I said, and when he announced we were moving across the country in a week, she just started getting things ready. Eloise seemed to be all right with the idea as far as I could tell. She is a lot older than I am, was in high school at the time, and didn't discuss things with me very much. Or, maybe my father really had thought of it on the spur of the moment when I asked him about the eat-in-the-hat restaurant. My father is an eccentric. I didn't know that word at the time, but I knew he was one. He's not crazy or anything like that. He doesn't rave or flip his lips with a finger and go bibble, bibble. He just does things such as suddenly move his whole family to California, or travel in a deluxe double drawing room on the Super Chief with a bunch of parakeets.

The Second World War had ended a few years earlier, and my father came out of the war a rich man. He had gotten rich selling shoelaces to the army and the navy. Brown shoelaces to the army and black shoelaces to the navy. Before the war started he had gone to this auction. An auction is where they put things up for sale and people holler out how much they are willing to pay and the highest bid gets it.

He was at this auction, and one of the items was a large lot of shoelaces-it turned out to be a boxcar full of them. He won the whole thing for fifty-seven dollars. It turned out that along with the shoelaces came a shoelace-making machine. All this machine does is put the little metal or plastic tips on the ends of the shoelaces-the actual shoelace stuff comes in big rolls. You want fourteen-inch shoelaces, you put the little metal tip, which is called an aglet, every fourteen inches; you want a sixteen-inch shoelace, you put the aglet every sixteen inches. He got more machines and had a shoelace factory. After the war, my father invented plaid shoelaces, and shoelaces in colors like pink and bright blue. People bought millions of them.

And this is why my father was rich, and why we were on the deluxe Super Chief going to Los Angeles without a care in the world.

It was exciting to be on a train trip. My father had booked a double drawing room-that's two of the largest compartments, with the wall between them folded open to make something like a tiny apartment, with two tiny bathrooms, armchairs that turn into beds, and long benchlike sofas that fold into beds at night, also beds that fold down out of the wall, and you climb a little ladder to get in. The walls and ceiling were made of steel, painted pale green, and the floor was carpeted. There was a little white button on the wall, and when you pressed it you'd hear a bell go ding somewhere far away and a Pullman porter would come.

There are these guys, Pullman porters, black guys with deep voices, elegant manners, and starched white jackets. When you travel in a double drawing room, the porters give you extra-good service, because you are obviously somebody important or rich. Our porters were Mr. Frederick and Mr. Jefferson. They called my father Mr. Wentworthstein, which is our name, and brought us newspapers, playing cards, and ice-cold 7-Up, which I had never had before. My father said that 7-Up was the perfect beverage for train travel, and I agreed with him.

Looking out the window I saw other travelers hurrying to get on the Super Chief, redcaps-who are guys with red caps-rolling carts piled high with luggage, chefs in white coats and those tall chef's hats, loading boxes and boxes of things to cook into the dining car. There were conductors in blue suits with shiny brass buttons, the engineer in striped overalls, various railroad guys checking the wheels-everyone hustling and bustling-plus hot, steamy smells and powerful buzzing and hissing noises. The train itself was like a big living thing, like a dinosaur or a giant snake. You had to go up some steep steel steps to get into it. Once you were in it, it smelled ... like a train-I didn't have anything to compare it to-it smelled of leather and clean carpeting, and hot motor oil, and rich people.

There was a lot of scurrying around and getting settled into the double drawing room. Mr. Frederick and Mr. Jefferson made sure all our suitcases were on board; the conductor, in his blue suit, came by and punched our tickets with a shiny silver ticket puncher. We looked out the window again. The rush of people on the platform was thinning out, getting slower. There were clunks and thumps as the steel stairs were folded up, and the doors banged shut. Some of the people outside the train were friends and relatives of people who were taking the trip. They waved and made faces at their friends who were on board. Guys in blue railroad suits wrote things down on clipboards and looked at pocket watches.

"All aboard!" somebody hollered. The people on the platform took a step back from the train. More bumps, thumps, and bangs. A guy in a railroad uniform, looking annoyed, walked fast alongside the train, up toward the engine. Then he walked back the other way. Everybody on the platform was standing still, facing the train.

Then we felt a bump, then a bump the other way. Nobody said anything. Another bump. The people on the platform were sliding to the left. Poles and columns and baggage carts too. We were moving! I could feel the wheels rumble under us. Slowly, slowly, the train was moving out of the station!

"Let's let the birds out of the boxes," my father said. "They need a little exercise."

My father was busy setting up his Zenith portable radio, a big thing, almost like a little suitcase, covered in black bumpy leather. It had the patented Wave Magnet, which was an oval plastic object the size of two dessert plates, with suction cups-this you'd stick to the window, and there was a flat ribbonlike cable that connected it to the radio. My father had bought it specially for the trip, and we were going to hear all the usual radio programs while we crossed the country in style.

My mother was leafing through a magazine, and Eloise was reading a book about art history. From Eloise's expression, and what I knew about her personal tastes, I was pretty sure she was pretending she was traveling with some other family-one with no parakeets or little brothers-or maybe alone. As the train came out of the darkness of the station and into the semidarkness of the railyards on a gloomy winter afternoon, with the parakeets whirring and whizzing around the double drawing room and my family sipping 7-Up, I felt a kind of excitement I had never felt before. I knew I had begun my first big adventure.

Up to now, all my adventures had been either small or completely imaginary.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Neddiad by Daniel Pinkwater Copyright © 2007 by Daniel Pinkwater. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 19 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 19 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2011

    OMG LIFE CHANGING BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I have read this book seven times. This is the best book i have ever read in my whole life and i HAVE READ ALOT OF BOOKS BEFORE!!!!!!!!!! I highly recommend this book you should also read the second one called the Yggisey ( i think i spelled it wrong!!!!) But the author is great, Daniel Pinkwater I think anyone can read this!!!! This book is AMAZING, Please try it!!!!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 2, 2011

    landon

    the best book i read in ages i would recamend it to any boady

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2012

    The betst

    Awesome!!!!! It was great

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2012

    Issa

    Awsome book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2014

    Undescribly good

    Who ever thought turtles cuold be do important i read this after i read the Yigguseey-which yes,is abput Yggydrasil and is a great book to!Daniel Pinkwater is an amazing story teller and this book is something every one should read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2013

    MUST READ

    This book is fantastic. If you want to read a.....different kind of book, then I highly suggest this one!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2013

    OMG best bookEVER

    This is the best book the turtl is fun to read danieel pinkwater you should make a movie that wilbe the boom i love this book just by the book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2012

    Turtles

    This turtle causes a lot of mayhem

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2012

    HORIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?

    Tdesdhhrx

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2011

    Don't waste your time reading this review,buy it!

    The best book EVER!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 13, 2011

    Iffy

    It+was++okay

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2010

    Daniel Pinkwater is a great story teller

    This is a children's book but our book club is reading it as our "out loud" book and everyone is having a great time. Why should children have all the fun? It has wonderful illustrations at the beginning of each chapter by Calef Brown. Just a great book for children and adults alike.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2009

    Not for children only!

    Grandparents will love the 1940's setting complete with outrageous Hollywood characters. In fact, we may appreciate it far more than the kids. Look like a hero...buy the book for your grandchildren and read it yourself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2007

    A Little On the Weird Side

    I didn't particularly enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. Itwas a bit too random and far-fetched for my liking. It was okay, though.

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    Posted August 29, 2009

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    Posted May 2, 2011

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    Posted February 26, 2011

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    Posted February 18, 2011

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    Posted April 19, 2011

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