Published: May 2011
Rating: 4.5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it!
It all started with a corn dog.
That’s what the spaceman who crashed in the woods near detention-prone Jacob Wonderbar’s house wanted to trade for his spaceship. It seemed like a pretty good deal to Jacob! But when he and his best friends Sarah and Dexter take their new ship for a test ride, well…before they know it they’ve broken the universe, gotten kidnapped by a space pirate, landed on a planet that smells like burp breath, and been chased by revenge-hungry substitute teachers. But the strangest thing of all? Jacob finds out that there’s an entire colony of space humans, and his long-lost father might be one of them. Now he’s not so sure he wants to go home…
Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow (henceforth called Jacob Wonderbar) is ridiculous in the best possible way. I was fully entertained from page 1 right to the end, and often laughed out loud at the sillyness.
Jacob, Dexter and Sarah are three typical fifth graders – though Jacob has a knack for getting rid of substitute teachers – until they trade a spaceship for a corndog. Then, they’re fifth graders in space. What follows their initial blast off into the big, wide Milky Way Galaxy is an adventure of epic proportions that includes breaking the universe, being stolen, finding a planet full of substitute teachers and running a maze as a science experiment.
The ideas presented in Jacob Wonderbar are absolutely crazy, but work. The story is presented in such a good voice – all three kids stand out. Jacob is the crazy trouble-maker who is a good friend and decent kid. Dexter is the loyal friend and tag-along who has a backbone deep down and manages to come into his own, while Sarah is the smarty-pants whose parents enroll her in way too many activities and she can definitely take care of herself, thank you very much! The characters mesh so well together, and are so endearing. I want to be their teacher!
What I liked most about Jacob Wonderbar is that underneath all the humour, adventures, space pirate and crazy scientists (not to mention all the substitute teachers) – underneath all the sillyness – the story touches on absent parents, over-worked kids and really is a tale about friendship, and what it can hold up against and weather. I would have no problems recommending this book to elementary school kids (and teens!), and I think they would love it.
Advance Reader Copy provided by Penguin Canada in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!
Jacob Wonderbar is part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge hosted by The Story Siren.