Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars

Friday, January 1, 1999

For reasons I don't understand, not all people who write books for the old child/young adult category don't center around the sort of protagonists Daniel Pinkwater writes, which is to say, chubby, antisocial freaks. Do they really think good-looking, socially adept people between the ages of 9 and 13 are reading when not forced by teachers?

Of course not.

Fortunately, Daniel Pinkwater has the formula down. Introduce a portly smart kid who is ostracized by everyone else at school. He meets another, similarly ostracized, kid, and they go off and meet wacky characters and do wacky things. That's a book I wanted to read when I was in fourth grade, and it's a book I enjoy reading now.

Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars is possibly the best realization of this formula. Our husky reject, Leonard Neeble, moves to a hideous suburb from his pleasant old neighborhood in Hogboro. Everyone at the new school hates him, so he pretends to be an idiot so people will ignore him. He meets up with Alan Mendelsohn, who, after a few days at school, convinces half the school he is from Mars. Then they learn how to move things with their mind and how to visit other dimensions. You really have to read it to truly appreciate this novel.

Unless, of course, you were one of those people with a social life in junior high. I'm not sure what you would be doing on this website if you were, but I suppose it's possible.

Rating: A+ (Doesn't Get Any Better Than This)

Reviewed by Padgett Arango
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