“Bruel, as always, builds terrific comic momentum ... A read-aloud treatand fine inspiration for classroom biographies.”
“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.”
“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.”
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.
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.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
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.
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)