Friday, January 15, 2010


NOVAK, Matt. The Everything Machine. illus. by author. unpaged. Roaring Brook/A Neal Porter Bk. 2009. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-1-59643-268-4. LC number unavailable.

K-Gr 2–Novak’s colorful cartoons and dynamic storytelling show that life on the planet Quirk has become a bit dull as the Everything Machine completes all of the inhabitants’ daily tasks. It cooks, mows the lawn, and even colors the baby’s pictures until it breaks, and the residents panic as they learn from the little green repairman that it will take months to fix. Looking a little like humans, the Quirkians have wild hairdos with red cherries growing straight up, and the friendly repairman from planet Bing Bong may have four eel-like arms and an oversize head but his backward baseball cap and large round glasses make him charming and approachable. Novak uses word balloons and animated comic-book panels to show the Quirkians’ struggling to do their chores. When the machine is repaired, they have learned more than how to garden and cook; they actually enjoy doing for themselves and create a park around the Everything Machine, which now lets the people of Quirk do everything but the hardest job of all–back-scratching. The “quirky” illustrations and deadpan narration may be a little peculiar but that is exactly what will draw young readers in and keep them visiting.–Kristine M. Casper, Huntington Public Library, NY

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