Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Neddiad: How Neddied Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization by Daniel Pinkwater

Imagine that your name is Neddie and that you are just a regular kid with regular parents growing up in Chicago just after World War II. You enjoy going to the movies every Saturday morning and looking at magazines on your sofa while you wait for dinner. You see a picture in a magazine of the Brown Derby Restaurant in Los Angeles and mention to your dad that you'd like to eat there among the movie stars some day. He says that he would also like that and that he'll move the whole family out to California right away. Suddenly you pack up, catch a train, and things do not seem so regular anymore. This is how The Neddiad by Daniel Pinkwater begins.

Anyone who has read Pinkwater or heard his commentaries on National Public Radio knows that he has a world-class top-notch imagination. In The Neddiad, he draws from his deep well of experiences (having grown up in Chicago) and transforms a story about kids in the forties into a epic tale filled with mythological characters. Neddie and his friends Seamus and Yggdrasel talk just like kids and hang out at doughnut shops and go to school and make friends and deal with bullies. They also meet Indian shamans, befriend a ghost, visit a circus with a real mammoth, and strive to save the world from a evil spirit. A kid's got a do what a kid's got to do.

The Neddiad is aimed at young readers but don't let that keep you from checking it out. Older readers who recall early television, movie serials, radio dramas, comic books, train travel, diners, old telephones, and such may remember being somewhat like Neddie themselves. And if you like the book, Pinkwater has written two sequels, Yggyssey and Adventures of a Cat-Whiskered Girl. Most public libraries will own them.

Pinkwater, Daniel. The Neddiad: How Neddied Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization. Houghton Mifflin, 2007. ISBN 9780618594443

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