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Philbrick, Rodman. REM World. May 2000.192p. Scholastic/Blue Sky, $16.95 (0-439-08362-1).
Gr. 4-6. Ten-year-old Arthur Woodbury, aka "Biscuit Butt," among other lard-laden nicknames, sends away for the REM sleep machine, which promises weight loss over- night. But Arthur doesn't read the directions properly, and he finds himself stuck in the REM world. What's worse, the universe is about to be overtaken by the great Nothing, and the only one who can reverse the death sentence is Arthur. What follows is a fast and furious journey into an alternative universe that features such creatures as the Frog People, the Cloud People, river ser- pents, giants, and a horrifying demon. Together with his monkey-like guide, Morf, Arthur transcends a tidal wave, avoids being eaten by a giant, learns to fly, and, oh yes, saves the universe. This reads like a treatment of an animated movie, and although some readers will appreciate the nonstop action, the interesting Arthur, who becomes Arthur Courage, gets lost in the tumult. Still, librarians may want to suggest this to young Harry Potter fans, who will recognize the misfit hero in a strange, new world. -Ilene Cooper