A Whole Nother Story - Dr. Cuthbert Soup

The wheel is arguably the greatest innovation of all time, though the name of its inventor remains a mystery because in those days there were no patents. There were no patents because there were no lawyers. That is, until after the wheel was invented and ran over some people. Then there were lawyers everywhere.

I had never heard of A Whole Nother Story until it arrived at the library, but I was intrigued by the description on the back: a psychic hairless dog, top secret government agents, international superspies, corporate villains ... and, of course, a sock puppet named Steve. And, guessing that "Dr. Cuthbert Soup" was not in fact a real name, I looked at the dust jacket flap and discovered that he's the founder and president of the "National Center for Unsolicited Advice" (an idea I had myself once), and that he'd been a smoke detector at a mall until he was replaced by a machine. Yep.

The book reminded me in many ways of A Series of Unfortunate Events; partly because of the three kids on the run (but with their father), but mostly because of the way the narrator is as much of a character as everyone else in the book. Also, it's pretty over-the-top, from Agent Aitch Dee and El Kyoo, to international superspy Pavel Dushenko (and his pet chimp Leon), to the mysterious henchmen known only by their numbers.

Ethan Cheeseman is a genius who has invented a machine possibly capable of time travel (but it's not quite functional yet); everyone else is after him, which means that he and his three "attractive, polite, relatively odor-free children" are constantly on the move. It's a comic story with plenty of close-calls and bumbling bad guys, and I enjoyed almost every minute of it. I say "almost" because there were a few pretty sloppy things that I disapprove of, first and foremost that he refers to the chimpanzee as a "monkey" in one instance. (Sure, it's fine for Pavel to call Leon his "leetle minkey" but the narrator should know better.) And, sure, it's a kids' book involving a time machine, but stuff about speeding up a beam of light (and the resulting effects) is just ridiculous.

Every so often there's a break in the story for some pieces of Unsolicited Advice (usually tangentially related to the story) which are also very funny, the sort of thing I really wanted to read to somebody else. I'll probably need to check this one out again eventually to read to Ridley once we get through our current reads.

The difference between this and Lemony Snicket is that it's more upbeat, there's a little less of the melodrama, and it ends happily. For a very silly romp of a book, I highly recommend A Whole Nother Story.

Fed to jonathan's brain | February 02, 2010 | Comments (0)


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