Crazy in Poughkeepsie
The thing about this kind of guru is that he doesn’t seem to know exactly what he’s trying to do. He sure does seem to be hungry, though.
So Mick agrees to something like a quest, roaming the suburbs with the oddest group of misfits: Lumpo and Lhasa; graffiti-fanatic Verne; and Verne’s unusual friend Molly. Molly is a Dwergish girl―don’t worry if you don’t know what that is yet―and she seems to be going off the rails a bit.
Along the way, the gang will get invited to a rollicking ghost party, consult a very strange little king, and actually discover the truth about Heaven. Or a version of the truth anyway, because in a Daniel Pinkwater tale, the truth is never the slightest bit like what you’re expecting.
Pinkwater, at 80, remains steadfast in his style, and even manages to give a vintage flair to most of the book. The car of choice is 1958 Buick Limited Convertible handed down from a grandfather, there's a Gooble Gobble Country Kitchen, and a shout out to circuses, which I suspect Pinkwater wanted to feature more prominently in the book, but instead acknowledges that these are more of a relic of the past.
Aaron Renier does a great job at capturing the feel of Pinkwater's (and later his wife Jill's) illustrations; sort of like a twelve year old was given a Flair pen and a pile of Mad magazines, and told to illustrate the book while sitting on a plaid couch in a basement rec room with incense burning. There is a lot of humorous detail in the pictures, and a retro feel to the clothing and settings that goes along quite well with Pinkwater's writing.
The new millienium has brought a lot of changes in middle grade literature, with more books tending to harken back to the 1950s in their level of didactism about all manner of issues, and fewer books exhibiting a good sense of humor and lightheatedness. Pinkwater is the pastmaster of the goofy, and stays true to form with his newest adventure.