Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

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I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**     = Enjoyable
*        = Good, with reservations



by Jon Agee

Reviewed June 30, 2006.
Michael di Capua Books (Hyperion), 2005.  32 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (E AGE).

It’s funny how Jon Agee can make such charming picture books with the main character being an “old guy.”  The delightful Milo’s Hat Trick featured a washed-up magician and a bear.  Terrific features grumpy Eugene, who won free cruise, but isn’t even happy about that.  Eugene’s change comes from an encounter not with a bear, but with a parrot.

Eugene seems able to find something bad about everything.  When he wins the cruise, he says, “Terrific.  I’ll probably get a really nasty sunburn.”  His grumpy frown contrasts with the thrilled people waving good-by on either side of him.

To be fair, some bad things do happen to Eugene.  It reminds me of a story I had when I was a kid:  What Good Luck!  What Bad Luck! where disastrous things, then wonderfully fortuitous things happen alternately to the main character.  However, whether it’s good or bad, Eugene can only say, “Terrific,” and point out something negative or possibly negative that can come next.

Eugene’s first reversal comes when the ship sinks.  “Everyone was rescued, except for Eugene.  ‘Terrific,’ he said.  ‘I’ll probably get devoured by sharks.’”  When he finds a tiny island, he’s sure he’s going to get eaten by cannibals.

Instead, Eugene meets the only other inhabitant of the island, a highly intelligent parrot.  With the parrot’s help, Eugene manages to build a boat and be rescued, complaining the whole time.  By the end of the book, Eugene has made a dear friend and, at last, we get a heartfelt, “TERRIFIC!”

This book is charming and delightful, and there’s always more to see in the pictures.  A book that will make you smile and help you remember not to complain.

Reviews of other books by Jon Agee:
Milo's Hat Trick
Orangutan Tongs
Life on Mars
Otto: A Palindrama

Copyright © 2006 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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