Nickle (Ant Bully, 1999, etc.) doesn't play fair in this amusing but disorienting escapade. Young Rex used to help his inventor grandpa make and fix things, but now that Grandpa's "gone," he just sits and watches TV all the time. When the TV breaks down, Rex crawls inside to cry. Suddenly, he's swimming in the ocean, a guest on his favorite show, "Deep Sea Hunt." Then, with the help of a very special remote, he's tumbling from channel to channel, chasing bad guys on the "Harly Hog Cartoon Hour," wipin out Vladimir Nokyerblokov on "Wild World Wrestling," pitching a baseball her and a weather forecaset there. Just as he's about to be eaten by a robot on " Doctor Bleep in Outer Space," he feels a hand on his shoulder. It's Grandpa, not dead as readers have been carefully led to believe, but just away on a long Florida vacation. Though some of the shows Rex visits look modern, "Doctor Bleep" is in black and white--which, with the array of old-style TV sets Rex watches, give illustrations a retro flavor. Readers thrown off balance by the climactic twist may prefer more predictable ventures into the boob tube, such as Marc Brown's Bionic Bunny Show (1986) or Matt Novak's Mouse TV (1994).
Rex misses his grandfather and the good times they had fixing things and watching the TV show, "Deep Sea Hunt." Now, all Rex does is watch television. One day the television breaks down. With no Grandpa to fix it, Rex climbs inside and cries until the set is filled with salty tears. So begins a fantasy that takes Rex under the sea, into the living room of the Great Octopus, who is watching eight TV shows. Nickle's artwork gets particularly exciting as Rex goes inside the shows. He wrestles on "Wild World Wrestling," gets girls on "As Malibu Turns," and enters a show that finally takes him home, where a surprise awaits: Grandpa's not dead; he's only been in Florida. The wacky story is reminiscent of William Joyce's early works, but the art has a look all its own. The sturdy pictures veer from retro to computer cartoons, and Nickle takes every opportunity to shake things up in style and detail. Kids older than the intended audience may appreciate this the most. -Ilene Cooper
--Booklist, January 1, 2001
Rex misses his grandfather and the things they used to do together, such as watching Deep Sea Hunt, their favorite TV show. In his loneliness, Rex climbs into the console of his broken television, wher he finds himself inside an episode of Deep Se Hunt; an octopus with eight TV sets give Rex a magical remote control that allows him to travel into any show on the air. Rex moves through program after program until he finds himself in an old black-and-white sci-fi show with a robot chasing him. Rex feels the robot's clamp on his back, but then realizes that he is actually felling the grip of pliers, and holding the pliers is his Grandpa, who has just returned from Florida. The final illustration shows Rex snuggled in Grandpa's lap, illuminated by the cathode-ray glow. Although the fantasy of Rex's TV adventure has some appeal, the sudden return of Grandpa is utterly confusing, since the placement of Grandpa's tools, TV, and pictures in the attic implied that Grandpa was more permanently absent from Rex's life. The illustrations have a retro feel, showing '50s style furniture and appliances in a garsish palette of turquoise and orange, lit by the occasionl lurid glow of a television set; they're more glitzy than fanciful, and their jarring loudness makes the textual confusion more acute. Youngsters who engage with the channel-surfing TV fantasy will be put off by the deceptive presentation of Grandpa's abscence and the rosy but illogical conclusion.
--Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, March 2001
Nickle, whose The Ant Bully dealt with a grim boy who tortured insects, introduces another young misfit in this escapist fantasy. Rex is a gothic child with a sprout of jet
Nickle, whose The Ant Bully dealt with a grim boy who tortured insects, introduces another young misfit in this escapist fantasy. Rex is a gothic child with a sprout of jet-black hair on his ovoid, pale head. He once socialized with his grandfather, "But now that Grandpa was gone, Rex was lonely." With his grandfather unaccounted for--and mentioned strictly in the past tense--Rex slouches in the glow of his television screen. When the TV breaks, Rex climbs inside it to cry. His tears spark a convoluted sequence of events, and he acquires a magical remote control that lets him participate in soap operas, commercials and pro-wrestling bouts. During Rex's adventures, Nickle makes pictorial allusions to wood-grain TV sets and classic shows like Lassie, Flipper and Gilligan's Island. He frames Rex's televised antics in black rectangles, and bathes the episodes in lurid blue, orange and white. Yet the nostalgic references and the virtual-reality premise make an uneasy fit, and the title's dinosaur theme goes unremarked (as does the word "cable"). Further, Grandpa himself rescues Rex: "I go to Florida for a couple of months and this place falls apart!" he chortles. Turns out that Grandpa was not dead but on vacation, and his arrival puts a mordant twist on Rex's melancholy looks and behavior. For TV-obsessed kids, this may be a fun flight of fancy, though, like a flea-market jumble of antiques and old junk, Nickle's disparate odds and ends never coalesce. Ages 5-7. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Rex loves to fix things and watch Deep Sea Hunt with his grandfather. When grandpa goes to Florida, Rex misses his grandfather and watches too much TV. The television breaks and can't be fixed, so Rex, while feeling sorry for himself, climbs into the back of the set and is magically transported into his favorite TV shows. Whenever a show gets too hazardous Rex changes channels on his magic remote to escape. This picture book has stylized illustrations throughout, including some of television shows that few children today will recognize. The book is unconvincing, and there are better buys for limited library budgets. 2001, Scholastic, $15.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Wendy Pollock-Gilson
Gr 2-4-The opening scene of this long-winded cautionary tale introduces a boy who misses his grandfather. Rex and grandpa, "a retired inventor with great imagination," spent their days together fixing things. As a reward for time well spent, they treated themselves to an hour of TV a day. With grandpa gone, all Rex does is watch television. Eventually, it breaks, an unsuccessful repairman scatters its parts, and Rex crawls inside the empty set to have a good cry. As the TV fills with water, the child is transported to Deep Sea Hunt. Trading his glow-in-the-dark wristwatch for a Superoctopower remote control, Rex zaps himself through show after show. Finally, he is rescued from this TV nightmare by his grandfather. It seems that Grandpa isn't deceased; he was just on a long Florida vacation, an awkward deception that falls decidedly flat. Spiritless, retro-style illustrations also disappoint. Like a poorly produced sitcom, this tedious tale is apt to make readers reach for the remote.-Alicia Eames, New York City Public Schools Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Nickle (Ant Bully, 1999, etc.) doesn't play fair in this amusing but disorienting escapade. Young Rex used to help his inventor grandpa make and fix things, but now that Grandpa's"gone," he just sits and watches TV all the time. When the TV breaks down, Rex crawls inside to cry. Suddenly, he's swimming in the ocean, a guest on his favorite show,"Deep Sea Hunt." Then, with the help of a very special remote, he's tumbling from channel to channel, chasing bad guys on the"Harly Hog Cartoon Hour," wiping out Vladimir Nokyerblokov on"Wild World Wrestling," pitching a baseball here and a weather forecast there. Just as he's about to be eaten by a robot on"Doctor Bleep in Outer Space," he feels a hand on his shoulder. It's Grandpa, not dead as readers have been carefully led to believe, but just away on a long Florida vacation. Though some of the shows Rex visits look modern,"Doctor Bleep" is in black and whitewhich, with the array of old-style TV sets that Rex watches, give the illustrations a retro flavor. Readers thrown off balance by the climactic twist may prefer more predictable ventures into the boob tube, such as Marc Brown's Bionic Bunny Show (1986) or Matt Novak's Mouse TV (1994). (Picture book. 6-8)