I am sure that many school librarians are facing the same plight as me. "I need a book. I want something just like Diary of a Wimpy Kid." Sigh. Sure there are some choices, but not so many of them are boy slanted. So I was delighted when last week at the HarperCollins preview, Herbert's Wormhole was on the table.
When we meet Alex, he is just about to "Blow that slime-sucking freak into a gazillion space-chunks!" (p. 1) You'd think a kid would be super excited about completing a whole video game. Not Alex. At the beginning of the summer, he promised his parents that as soon as he mastered his game, he'd play outside and NOT ask for another video game for the rest of the summer. Of course, right after he made his promise the coolest video game ever arrived in the stores.
Even worse is what his parents bought him in the name of entertainment for the rest of the summer. A jungle gym. Seriously. The Safe-T-Kids Jump n' Jammin' Jungle Gym complete with swing, monkey bars, climbing wall, ladder and a spiral tunnel slide. On top of that comes the announcement that Alex's parents have arranged a play date with nerdy neighbour Herbert Slewg. Herbert likes to invent things, and he and Alex aren't exactly on the same level.
Alex faces his destiny and heads on over to Herbert's place. He finds Herbert in his bedroom dressed in an AlienSlayer:3-D bodysuit! Alex can't believe it. Herbert of all people has THE game. Maybe his luck is changing.
Not quite. Herbert is using the components of the video game for his latest invention. He's trying to figure out how to walk through walls, among other things.
When Herbert and Alex head on over to the jungle gym something interesting happens. Alex is messing around and flipping the switch on the bodysuit that Herbert modified. All of a sudden a weird "wubba-wubba" sound starts to come out of the slide, and Alex feels a strong pull. Before they know it, fwooop! The boys are sucked through time. Not to the past, like they originally think, but instead toward the future.
They are in the same town of Merwinsville, but everything is different. Firstly, there are G'daliens all over. They are hideous tentacled creatures who wear wigs and speak in Aussie accents in order to appear friendly. Then there is the fact that everything is so clean. No cars, no litter, no pollution. Herbert is enamoured, but Alex is wary. What are all these creepy aliens doing, and why are they in charge?
More importantly, how are Alex and Herbert going to get home?
Filled with slapstick humour, and gross-out moments, Herbert's Wormhole is bound to find enthusiastic readers. From zero gravity t-ball, to bumper car pizza joints, Herbert's Wormhole has a bit of something for everyone. While the plot line reminds me more of The True Meaning of Smekday, than it does Wimpy Kid, the cartoon format is reader friendly and will likely inspire some artistically inclined kids to come up with their own adventures with the G'daliens. Since I read the arc, I missed out on quite a bit of the artwork, and I am looking forward to the pub date of 5/2009 to check out the final copy.
(Ed to add: Check out the website!)