Who Is Melvin Bubble?

Overview

Who is this kid with the funny name? Well, that depends on who you ask. Everybody who knows Melvin—his mom, his dad, his best friend Jimmy, his dog—even Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the big ugly monster with three eyes who lives in his closet have a different opinion. This original and riotous picture book has a lot to say—not only about Melvin, but also about perspective, point of view, and a six-and-a-half-year-old's place in the world.

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Overview

Who is this kid with the funny name? Well, that depends on who you ask. Everybody who knows Melvin—his mom, his dad, his best friend Jimmy, his dog—even Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the big ugly monster with three eyes who lives in his closet have a different opinion. This original and riotous picture book has a lot to say—not only about Melvin, but also about perspective, point of view, and a six-and-a-half-year-old's place in the world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" Bruel, as always, builds terrific comic momentum ... A read-aloud treat—and fine inspiration for classroom biographies."

Publishers Weekly

 

"Bright cartoon illustrations provide tongue-in-cheek commentary ... Young readers should find him familiar, and may be moved by his example to take similar stock of themselves."

Kirkus Reviews

 

"While teachers will find this a delightful choice for exploring point of view or the concept of identity, children will simply think it's great fun."

School Library Journal

 

"Delightful cartoon style characters and contents combine to produce really amusing visualizations of the wide-ranging answers to the title question."

Children's Literature

Publishers Weekly
Bruel (Bad Kitty) proclaims, "This is Melvin Bubble," on the opening page, as a huge arrow hangs above the boy hero. Melvin looks friendly and unassuming enough, but according to the unseen narrator, the fellow remains a mystery, and the only way to find out the answer to the title question is to interview... well, anybody who will answer. What follows is a parade of characters, each one goofier and more improbable than the last, and all of whom reveal more about themselves than they do about Melvin. Dad calls him "smart, handsome, popular, a great athlete! Now that I think about it-he's just like me when I was his age!" His best friend thinks Melvin's "the coolest kid I know! He can whistle `The Itsy-Bitsy Spider' through his nose!" and the tooth fairy just wants to kvetch about how Melvin's big head makes it a real pain to leave coins under his pillow. The straight-man narrator's wry comments may be most appreciated by older readers (e.g., when a beautiful princess dreams of happily ever after with Melvin, the narrator says, "You may be thinking of someone else"). Bruel, as always, builds terrific comic momentum, and his broad cartooning is the definition of zany. Precocious raconteurs will probably get the biggest kick out of seeing how the characters' rants and soliloquies literally push the limits of their dialogue balloons. A read-aloud treat-and fine inspiration for classroom biographies. Ages 4-8. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
Melvin Bubble's best friend Jimmy Wallpaper has sent a letter to our author which introduces the story. That, he tells us, is the cause for this examination of who exactly Melvin is. And of course the answer to that question depends on the person asked. His dad feels he is "a chip off the old block." His thoughts are matched by a series of photos comparing father and son at different ages. His mom's answer is a tirade on his messiness, familiar to any mother. Each double-page spread gives a further verbal and visual answer to the question, from Melvin's friend Jimmy, of course, and from his dog, his teddy bear, the three-eyed monster in his closet, Santa Claus, even the Tooth Fairy. When we get answers from the "beautiful princess," "the meanest man in the world," a "magic rock," a "talking zebra," we have come "far afield." It remains for Melvin and Jimmy to bring the story to a satisfying conclusion. Delightful cartoon style characters and contents combine to produce really amusing visualizations of the wide-ranging answers to the title question. His mom's despair at his messy room is clear in both her expression and the collection of items on every surface. The zebra sneaking a peek from the edge of a scene, the three-eyed monster in striped pajamas, and bunny slippers are just part of the visual fun.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-The author begins by sharing a letter from Melvin's friend, suggesting that Mr. Bruel write a book about his pal, so that everyone can know him. What follows are interviews with Melvin's family, dog, teddy bear, and other assorted characters, including Santa, "a big ugly monster with three eyes" that lives in the boy's closet, and a talking zebra. Each perspective is relayed in humorous monologues that, naturally, reveal more about the speakers than they do about the subject. Dad claims he's a "chip off the old block" as black-and-white photos of a clumsy, clueless parent contrast with similar shots in color of a talented, tender son. The zebra is too preoccupied with his fear of lions to think about anything else. (Readers who peek under the dust jacket will hear from a lion-an example of the attention paid to detail in the overall design.) It is Melvin's friend who shares something sure to endear the protagonist to children: "He can whistle `The Itsy-Bitsy Spider' through his nose!" Gigantic dialogue bubbles frame the text and the bold, watercolor caricatures animating the descriptions; the speakers report from the sidelines. In the end, the bespectacled, skinny kid with the baggy jeans gets his turn to talk. While teachers will find this a delightful choice for exploring point of view or the concept of identity, children will simply think it's great fun. The layered perspectives ultimately show that Melvin is one cool kid.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Distant cousin to "The Blind Men and the Elephant," this character portrait answers the title question through statements from a lad's father and mother, his best friend, his teddy bear and closet monster, the tooth fairy and other associates. Young Melvin turns out to be fairly typical: "A chip off the old block!" according to his dad (the pictures tell a different story, though); in his mom's view, "the messiest boy in the world" (possibly true from visual evidence); eminently huggable (Teddy); gifted with the ability to whistle a tune through his nose (best friend); and so on. Bright cartoon illustrations provide tongue-in-cheek commentary, as well as a sometimes-labeled inventory of Melvin's world, possessions and accomplishments. He himself steps up at the end to deliver a self-aware, breezily positive summation. Young readers should find him familiar, and may be moved by his example to take similar stock of themselves. (Picture book. 6-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596431164
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Publication date: 8/8/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 282,527
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 430L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.83 (w) x 11.25 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Nick Bruel is the author and illustrator of New York Times bestseller Boing! and the Bad Kitty books, among others. He is a freelance illustrator and cartoonist, and during his down time, he collects PEZ dispensers and grows tomatoes in the backyard. He lives in Tarrytown, NY with his wife Carina and their lovely cat Esmerelda.

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2010

    GREAT book!

    My 7 year old son checked this out at his school library. This was the first book I saw him get so animated with. He actually was excited to turn the page and keep reading. Let me just say, he is a bit like his mother when it comes to reading. He will start a book and get bored very quickly. Not with this one!! I am now looking for other books for Christmas by this author.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2009

    Such fun!

    I am a second grade teacher and this book is hysterical if you read it in different voices for each character. The kids ask for this book over and over and it is always at someone's desk during free reading time. It is such fun! Nick's Bruel's other books are also fun and have the strange humor of kids. They love it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2008

    A reviewer

    it is accually the best book in the WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!! it as cool as a llama in the north pole lol my friend called himself melvin before i got this book and he lived it and so did my best friend! he is melvin' Evan' and i am the princess!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2007

    An excellent read for kids of allof ages!!

    My children ages 8, 4 and 2 all LOVE Marvin Bubble!!! Who wouldn't love to hear about one person from so many others and guess what he is really like?! It teaches us to think about people from all sorts of perspectives, but does so in such a fun and engaging way! The illustrations are excellent, the different fonts and types are so fun to read and there is something to laugh about on each page!! Older kids will get the 'inside' jokes, while younger children will just love the pictures! Great book to give as a gift as well!

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