What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this book is trying to be edgy for its young target crowd, but it's mostly about attitude. Daniel does lie to his mother and teacher. When Daniel shrinks, he and his tiny brother engage in some potentially dangerous acts, like catapulting themselves with rubber bands -- but kids couldn't emulate any of it.
What's the story?
Daniel is the only male in a female-dominated household. But feeling alienated in his own family isn't his, ahem, biggest problem. After eating his great-grandmother's goulash, Daniel's eyeballs start to growl, his fingers buzz, and his knees whistle -- then he shrinks to the size of the fourth toe of his left foot. While small, he discovers he has a secret, miniature twin brother who sleeps in Lego castles and relaxes in doll hot tubs. Daniel is ecstatic to have a \"bro.\" To a kid, Pablo boasts the perfect life: no school, no chores, \"nothing to do but have fun.\" He and Daniel launch themselves with rubber bands, slide down laundry detergent \"mountains,\" and swim in the dog's water bowl. The brothers exact revenge on their snooty sisters by releasing a hissing cockroach during a party. A sequel is forthcoming.
Is it any good?
The book's target audience is clear from this exchange: Pablo says, "Art rhymes with fart," and Daniel decides that is "the funniest thing anyone had ever said." If readers can think of more humorous things, well, they probably won't appreciate that his grandmother Lola changed her name from Gertrude Gezundheit or that Great Granny Nanny rides a mint-green scooter with bright orange flames matching her tattoos. These are caricatures, not characters, but it's unlikely kids will care; they'll be too busy saying "Ooh, yuck" when a shrunken Daniel falls into the toilet or wakes up with his nose against Stinky Sock Mountain.
Daniel's negative portrayal of his sisters as superficial and bossy may alienate girls, but they're clearly not the target audience anyway. And in a story about a kid who shrinks by eating goulash and enlarges by sneezing, it might be absurd to expect realism, but one does wonder how toe-sized kids manage to slip through a drinking straw-turned-water slide.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how they would adapt big-size items into cool toys if they shrank, like Daniel and Pablo do when they turn a drinking straw into a water slide or swim in the dog's water bowl.