Uncle Frank's Pit

Overview

It all started when Uncle Frank came for a visitàand stayed, and stayed, and stayed. It seemed nothing would rouse him from his comfortable spot in front of the TV. That is, until the day he hung an old coat hanger on a stick and picked up some unusual signals emanating from the backyard. All at once Uncle Frank was bound and determined to find whatever was buried out there, no matter how long it took. So he started to dig a holeùthis really big holeùand what happened next would make more than just family ...
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Overview

It all started when Uncle Frank came for a visitàand stayed, and stayed, and stayed. It seemed nothing would rouse him from his comfortable spot in front of the TV. That is, until the day he hung an old coat hanger on a stick and picked up some unusual signals emanating from the backyard. All at once Uncle Frank was bound and determined to find whatever was buried out there, no matter how long it took. So he started to dig a holeùthis really big holeùand what happened next would make more than just family history. In this hip, off-the-wall story, Matthew McElligott pairs a childÆs-eye view of eccentric adult behavior with brightly-colored drawings for hilarious results. Matthew McElligott is the author and illustrator of The Truth about Cousin ErnieÆs Head (Simon & Schuster). This is his first book with Viking. Matthew McElligott lives in Albany, New York.

Eccentric Uncle Frank comes for a short visit, but ends up moving into a pit in the backyard while he tries to dig up something he thinks is buried there.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this story of eccentricity run amok, a boy and his parents play host to the bespectacled title character, who moves in unexpectedly and begins digging a giant hole in their yard. With his bow tie, sweater vest and curly white hair, Uncle Frank looks the part of the nutty but harmless mock-scientist. He tells his nephew that he's looking for prehistoric relics, but "after two weeks of digging we hadn't found a single dinosaur bone. "`What's the rush?' said Uncle Frank." Frank evidently has ulterior motives; he furnishes the pit with a couch and sink, throws a party and receives letters addressed to a "lower apartment." McElligott, who examined family dynamics in The Truth About Cousin Ernie's Head, treats this volatile situation with peculiar humor. He contrasts the scheming and daydreaming Uncle Frank with the narrator's blond-haired, square mom and dad, who hem and haw but don't evict their freeloading relation from their tidy suburban plot. McElligott's skewed wit and deadpan delivery seem borrowed from a BBC comedy, but there is little hilarity--even when the yard yields a colossal, Olmec-style head. After the big payoff, Uncle Frank simply leaves town, and readers will share his ambivalence. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Eccentric Uncle Frank comes to visit and literally makes himself at home. He begins to dig a pit in his relatives' middle-class urban backyard, searching first for dinosaur bones, then for oil, and eventually for treasure. Oblivious to his family's disbelief (excluding the young boy who narrates the story), and later to intense media coverage, he ends up unearthing a huge ancient statue. Uncle Frank has the manic good cheer of an updated Monsieur Racine (Tomi Ungerer's The Beast of Monsieur Racine [Farrar, 1971]), but is revealed in contemporary, vivid, and thoroughly wacky full-color art. Surprises enliven the book as Uncle Frank moves furniture and amenities into the pit and has a hot tub installed. Emphatic characters are notable for their angular hairstyles, and the spot art is irresistibly apropos. Original and endearing, the text and illustrations support one another seamlessly. Best of all, the offbeat protagonist proves himself right against all logical odds. Children will regret his departure and hope he'll be back soon.-Carolyn Noah, Central Mass. Regional Library System, Worcester, MA
Kirkus Reviews
McElligott (The Truth About Cousin Ernie's Head, 1996) finds inspiration in Uncle Frank, an amiable old codger who is full of cockamamie ideas and immune to suggestions that he's worn out his welcome. Uncle Frank answers an invitation to drop in on his relatives: " `I can only stay a few hours,' said Uncle Frank. A month later, he was still with us." A scientist/inventor with a shock of white hair to make Einstein proud, and one card shy of a deck, Uncle Frank believes that dinosaur bones are buried in the backyard and starts to digþand dig and dig. As the young narrator's father becomes increasingly vexed, Uncle Frank changes his mind and keeps digging, first for oil and then for buried treasure. His hole in the ground begins to resemble a full-service apartment, and he orders a hot tub to make it homier yet. At the climactic moment when the narrator's father has had enough and Uncle Frank is about to be evicted, treasure is struck: an Easter Islandþlike statue that resembles Uncle Frank (who hastens off to his next adventure). This is a good-time, goofy story, without deep meanings or hidden agendas. The illustrations, chock full of color and shadow, have the fuzzy quality of low-tech computer artwork. (Picture book. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670877379
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/1/1998
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.28 (w) x 8.38 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Matthew McElligott
Matthew McElligott

MATTHEW McELLIGOTT is the author of several books for children, including The Lion's Share, Absolutely Not, and Backbeard and the Birthday Suit. He teaches at Sage College and also visits elementary schools around the country. He lives in New York.

www.mattmcelligott.com

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