At first the dark green sofa sitting in front of the mysterious Underhill place just seemed like junk waiting to be picked up. At least that’s what 12 year old River and his friends Freak and Fiona think. But after pulling out some strange tidbits from the sofa cushions, including a rare zucchini crayon that seems to be worth thousands of dollars, the trio begins to realize there’s more to this sofa than meets the eye. For one thing, it’s part of an 8 piece set. For another, it’s actually a sophisticated computer that can think and tesser, all powered by dust bunnies. Finally, it’s owned by the eccentric and non-human Alf who is determined to save the Earth from an evil villain from another world, known as Indorsia. River and his friends are trying to save Earth too, but should they trust the enigmatic Alf? Should they trust the sofa? And what does the zucchini crayon have to do with it all?
Set in Pennsylvania, this comical science fiction story is written in first person from River’s point of view. The characters are a bit over the top, but this seems to fit the melodramatic, exaggerated tone of the story. The one exception is Freak’s alcoholic and abusive father, which seems to be Clark’s only brush with a truly serious topic. The tale is propelled by humorous dialogue and, in the words of River’s English teacher, “hyperdiculous” situations. Several plot twists and subtle foreshadowing make for a satisfying conclusion. Cartoonish zucchini-colored maps on the endpapers are a nice touch. Readers who are looking for an adventure story with a touch of wacky will find this an entertaining read.
Read an excerpt of the book to get an idea of the hyperdiculous and frabjous world Clark has created.
*Several uniquely shaped hot air balloons are a major plot point. Ask kids to use their imagination to design their own hot air balloon.
*Only a few colors in the special limited edition box of crayons are named in the story. What other vegetables colors would you include in the box? If you could create a themed box of crayons, what would you name the colors?
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RECOMMENDED AGE/GRADE LEVEL
Age 9+ / Grade 4+