Dad: What book are we reviewing today?
Evangeline (age 4): Mal and Chad.
Lily (age 9): It's by Stephen McCranie. He sure can draw. He's good.
Dad: What kind of book is this?
Lily: It's a comic book. A graphic novel. And there is a sequel.
Elijah (age 6): I like these kind of longer books best. The longer they get, the better they are. There is more exciting stuff.
Lily: This is an adventure story. It's interesting - very interesting and fun.
Dad: Who is the star of the story?
Lily: There's this kid named Mal. His real name is Malison.
Lily: I don't know!
Lily: Yeah! Malcolm! And he has a dog named Chad.
Evangeline: Chad talks - which most dogs can't do.
Elijah: Having a talking dog would be awesome! Then I would be able to know what dogs are actually saying.
Evangeline: The dog eats person-food because he doesn't like dog food. It's yucky. If I ate dog food, I would try to throw it up in a bucket.
Elijah: If Evie ate dog food, she would have to get her belly pumped.
Dad: Tell me more about Mal. Was he a normal boy?
Lily: No. He's a genius. But he doesn't want anyone to know that he's a genius who could go to college -- he wants to stay in his class with Megan, the prettiest girl in the world.
Evangeline: The girl in the book is my favorite. That one. And I like those two girls too.
Dad: What kinds of things could Mal do?
Lily: Build a whole bunch of inventions.
Dad: Big brother Isaac is the inventor in our house.
Lily: Yeah but Isaac is not as smart as Mal. Isaac builds little models of robots that don't work.
Evangeline: But Mal made a backpack that could fly. And he made a rocket ship. I would love to ride in it.
Lily: And he made a Yum-Sauce. Which I want! It makes any yucky food taste like your favorite food. Actually, before I even read this book, I always wished I had a superpower where I could think of food tasting like something else and it would taste like that thing. That would be awesome.
Dad: So Mal invented the superpower you always wanted.
Lily: Yeah. He also has this rubber ducky -- a modified rubber ducky. He squeezes it, and it turns into a giant duck boat.
Evangeline: And Mal made this thing that sucked him up, and he shrinked.
Lily: They shrank themselves with an old vacuum cleaner that Mal modified. They wanted to try out scuba diving, so they shrank and went into the sink.
Evangeline: There's a straw they slide down like a waterslide into the sink.
Lily: They licked some suckers that are very special -- suckers that he modified.
Dad: I think "Modified" is the word of the day.
Lily: They lick the modified suckers, and then they can hold their breath underwater for a whole entire hour.
Dad: When I was a kid, I used to imagine that I could shrink down little and run around the house. I would take my Star Wars figures and crouch down so I could see things from their size and pretend I was climbing up bookshelves and chairs and swinging around on curtains. Do you guys ever imagine things like that?
Lily: Yeah, I always pretend that I can turn Polly Pocket sized, and then I can wear all their clothes and run around in their clothes.
Elijah: But Pollys don't have underwear! You wouldn't have underwear on!
Dad: What would you do if you could shrink, Elijah?
Elijah: I would take my stuffed animals and pretend there is a giant animal that is going to eat me. Then I would take another animal and kill that animal. And then another animal to kill that animal. I would keep going until there was only one left, then I would eat that animal.
Elijah: Ha ha hah!
Dad: What's one other major thing that Mal invented?
Evangeline: He made an elevator that could hop away.
Dad: Did the elevator go up and down?
Evangeline: No, it did something weird. It hops around in different places. Not like the elevator at our library - that one goes up and down. Mal's elevator went to places. It went way far away. To dinosaurs!
Lily: It's an elevator time machine. A MODIFIED elevator. So they go back in time to dinosaur times. When they get there they see weird lumpies in the water, but it's just the noses of longneck dinosaurs underwater.
Evangeline: Then there was a dinosaur egg that was cracking. But just a little one came out.
Elijah: He was a cute little squeaky one!
Lily: They named him Charlie.
Evangeline: Then there was a dinosaur behind them. A big one. And it chased them away! Then it crashed all of them.
Elijah: A killer dinosaur adventure!
Dad: If you had genius inventing powers, what would you make?
Elijah: I would invent a robotic bed. It could turn into a house. And it can turn into a robot pizza that spies on people when it shrinks. It could throw off pepperonis at people to kill bad guys.
Dad: Lovely. What if you could have any of Mal's inventions, which one of those would you pick?
Lily: I want the duck boat.
Elijah: Yeah - that duck boat was awesome! But I would want the time machine. I would go to Viking days. Actually, first I would get a dinosaur. Then I would take him to the Viking place so he could eat all the Vikings.
Dad: Lovely. So if Elijah was a genius, apparently he would be an evil genius.
Elijah: Hee hee hee ha hah!
Dad: His plans would involve attacking different things throughout history.
Elijah: Mal only used his powers to keep people safe.
Mal, Chad, and Megan, by Evangeline
running from a pterodactyl toward the time machine,
Mal, Charlie, and Chad riding their duckie past a longneck,
Author/Illustrator: Stephen McCranie
Published, 2011: Philomel
Like it? Here it is