Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey by Mini Grey

Lynn:  You only have to say the words “Traction Man” and the focus group and I are giggling helplessly.  The boys are much too big these days, they tell me, for picture books but I noticed a mad scramble for this new one just the same.  The first two books in the series were terrific and this one is, if possible, even better.  Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey (Random/Knopf 2012) finds our hero and his faithful pal, Scrubbing Brush on holiday at the beach.  They have wonderful adventures until a “colossal wave” washes them away.  Oh NO!  Never fear, Traction Man is saved but the price is that he finds himself in the Dollies’ Castle, dressed in a floral sarong and draped with a garland.  Even Scrubbing Brush has a garland!  As they plot escape from the dollies, an earthquake strikes the castle and the dollies show admirable strength and courage.  Hmm, maybe the Dollies aren’t so bad!

Mini Grey’s sly and hilarious illustrations are packed with details that reward readers who linger over the pages.  I loved that the fashionable dollies were as strong and capable as Traction Man too.  And then there are the end papers…not to be missed!

Cindy: Oh, this book delighted me to no end. It took forever to get to the story as I couldn’t tear myself away from the end papers until I had examined them fully. The front papers are an advertisement for New Beach Time Brenda: Fully Accessorized with Lots and Lots of Stuff. HA! From teeny tottery microshoes to a pinkly paisley inflatable dinghy she is set for a summer day at the beach. Unless you read the fine print:

Excessively packaged in high-quality polyrolypropelene non-recyclable indestructible plastic. Colors and decorations may vary. Terms & Conditions apply. Non-waterproof–may disintegrate if wet. Extremely flammable–kep away from hot sun. Warning: Choking hazard and small parts.

I think parents and grandparents will enjoy the endpapers…and perhaps the kids who are “too old for picture books” who get the humor in the satire. This book reminds me of Beauty Queens by Libba Bray for the youngest set. But kids will embrace the portrayal of how imaginative kids play with their toys. This book brought back my long ago obsession with my Barbie…and her daring adventures with G. I. Joe (he was a bit wilder than Ken…with his rough facial hair and flexible joints). Mini Grey, I love the way you think….and I adore the way you draw. Keep ’em coming.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

2 Comments on "Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey by Mini Grey"

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  1. svanderhyde@kdl.org' Shannon says:

    I must get my hands on this! I not only loved the first two Traction Man books, but I just finished Beauty Queens and loved that too! Thanks for your review! 🙂

  2. bookkm@gmail.com' Karen Maurer says:

    I am happy that Traction Man and Scrubbing Brush are back. And Beach Time Brenda looks pretty interesting. A spinoff??

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