From Publishers Weekly
Most grown-ups think Peter Fortune is a difficult child because he is so quiet: they "knew that something was going on inside that head, but they couldn't hear it or see it or feel it. They couldn't tell Peter to stop it, because they didn't know what it was he was doing in there." Actually, he is involved in one of his great adventures: exchanging bodies with his ancient pet cat, battling a troop of dolls come to life, making his parents disappear with a vanishing cream or discovering what it is like to be an adult falling in love. Through his daydreams, Peter learns to see the world from numerous points of view. He is the only boy at school, for example, who can recognize the weaknesses of a bully and feel compassion for him. In his first book for children, McEwan ( The Comfort of Strangers ; The Child in Time ) dextrously presents a series of strange and wonderful metamorphoses. His vivid and poetic writing, celebrating the creative abilities of a gifted 10-year-old, reveals a profound understanding of childhood. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 8-up.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 4-7. What if our worst fears (or, perhaps, our dearest wishes) actually happened? Right here in the backyard. There's a nightmarish sense of the domestic transformed in these interconnected stories about a 10-year-old loner. When Peter is quiet, it's because he's having "the weirdest" adventures in his head. They're experiences that grow out of the clutter of the kitchen drawer or the bombardment at the breakfast table. He loves his parents, but they crowd him. What would happen if he used vanishing cream? How would it feel to swap bodies with a cat, with a baby, with a grown-up? To actually, viscerally, be those creatures and still have your 10-year-old consciousness? The episode about the defeat of a bully is unconvincing, and at the end, Peter is too articulate about being on the edge of adulthood. But British author McEwan (whose prizewinning adult novels have been filmed) writes simple, visual prose--comic, deadpan, and lyrical--that captures the physicalness of the wild fantasy. The uneasiness remains. Things are put back together, but the world is not exactly right. The illustrations were not seen in galley, but there could be no better expression of Peter's vision than the kind of surreal artwork Browne has used in such books as Changes
(1990), where the mundane is suddenly mad. What if . . . ? Hazel Rochman