Twelve-year-old Rob isn't a reluctant reader; he's an intensely resistant reader. To rid the books his parents give him from his room, he stashes them in his closet, which is already stuffed with a makeshift science lab. Then one day, weird sounds from the closet startle him. Through some strange alchemy, a hybrid of two book characters has been born in his closet! What happens next will surprise you just as much as he surprises Rob and his friends. A diverting adventure from the author of the popular Leven Thumps fantasy series.
From the Publisher
“…there's enough humor here to elicit at least a few guffaws from even the most literary averse.” BCCB
“[A] highly amusing new series starter…” Booklist
“…the idea of a hybrid Willy Wonka/Frankenstein character is original and hilarious.” School Library Journal
“Comfy antics for readers who don't probably much like reading.” Kirkus Reviews
Children's Literature - Annie Laura Smith
How do you encourage a twelve-year-old underachiever to read when he prefers to do anything else but that? Having a creative, motivating creature, Wonkenstein, in his closet is a start. This fun adventure of a boy named Robert Columbo Burnside may well send reluctant readers to the library. To vision Rob's monster's appearance think of a hybrid Willy Wonka and Frankenstein. This combination makes for an original and funny character whose antics will intrigue young readers. Whimsical black and white child-like illustrations (although the entire text and illustrations are printed in blue) are presented in the first person, and will captivate the reader further as Rob narrates events with the help of these sketches. Although Rob wants to keep Wonka a secret from his family and friends, he does become rather attached to him. Skye transitions from reality into fiction seamlessly throughout the story, and will keep even teen readers engaged in the story. Potterwookiee: The Creature From My Closet will be a Book II sequel. Reviewer: Annie Laura Smith
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Rob Burnside is as average as a 12-year-old can be. His only claim to fame is that he is distantly related to the person who invented sideburns. His mother is always coaxing him to read, but all the books she buys for him end up in a jumble in his closet, which also doubles as his "laboratory." The sameness of Rob's life skids to a halt when someone inexplicable bursts from his lab one day. At first Rob has no idea who this little guy is, but then a trip to the library determines that he is a bizarre mash-up of Willy Wonka and Frankenstein. Rob must go to great-and often embarrassing-lengths to conceal "Wonkenstein," because he'll be in huge trouble if his parents find out what a mess his closet is. Written in a journal/comic format from the perspective of an underachieving narrator, this book owes an obvious debt to Jeff Kinney's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series (Abrams). The drawings don't pack a big comedic punch, but the writing is quite funny and has a lot of laugh-out-loud moments. And while the format and the protagonist might not be inventive, the idea of a hybrid Willy Wonka/Frankenstein character is original and hilarious. This book will be a hit with kids who can't get enough of the Wimpy Kid.—Amy Holland, Irondequoit Public Library, NY
Skye adds another Wimpy Kid to the growing bandwagon.
Sounding almost too nerdy to be true ("I'm kind of like a backup singer in the song of life"), 12-year-old Rob relates his tale in the now-requisite mix of block-print–type prose and line-drawn cartoon figures with punch lines or commentary in dialogue balloons. A string of hectic events follows the appearance of a manic mannequin from the midden of books and old science projects in his closet. He describes it as "a small, weird man who came up to just above my waist. He looked like two different people who had been smashed together." Comical chases, pranks, interactions with friends dependable and otherwise, mortifying mishaps in front of girls and like standard fare later, Rob has overcome severe stage fright to mend fences with classmate Janae and others by reciting a poem of apology at a school talent show. He has also been turned on to books by his discovery that the mannequin is an amalgam of Willy Wonka and Frankenstein's monster. In the end, Wonkenstein slips back into the closet—and out springs an even smaller Harry Potter/Chewbacca blend. Sequels, anyone?
Likely to be lost in the crowd, but comfy antics for readers who don't probably much like reading—which, one thinks, is exactly the point.(Fantasy. 9-11)