28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
I'd better start at the beginning, which goes like this, in the timelessly elegant prologue by Dr. Cuthbert Soup:
"If I could give you all just one word of advice, it would be... well, an incomplete sentence. Besides being grammatically iffy, I'm sure you'd agree that a single word of advice is rarely of much use. Even the phrase 'Look out!' (which could prove to be life-saving advice--especially where large falling objects or missing manhole covers are concerned) is two words.
"To simply shout out 'Look!' to a friend as a tuba falls from a ninth-story window toward his unsuspecting head will, at best, only serve to make sure he gets a good look at the tuba before it parades him, unceremoniously, into the sidewalk."
I have to say, any author who can use "parade" as a verb in quite that way is a man after my own heart. Assuming the author is a man--who knows? A Whole Nother Story is very much in the vein of Lemony Snickett as far as having a goofy invented author/narrator, odd interpositions, and a tongue-in-cheek tone.
Cuthbert Soup introduces himself and then the true heroes of our story: Mr. Ethan Cheeseman and, more important, his three children, who have no friends despite being "smart, pleasant, witty, attractive, polite, and relatively odor free." But their father is one of those handy fictional characters who has invented a very dangerous machine, the subject of a search by a super-secret government agency, spies from an Eastern European country, and the representatives of an evil corporation. In fact, one of those groups arranged the death of Mrs. Olivia Cheeseman two years earlier. Which is why Cheeseman and his offspring--along with a psychic dog and a sock puppet--are constantly on the move with the not-quite-finished time/space travel (LVR) device.
Note that the Cheeseman kids rename themselves with every move, so in Chapter One they're Barton, Saffron, and Crandall, but they're Jough, Maggie, and Gerard for the rest of the book. Or rather, Gerard LaFontaine, Magenta-Jean Jurgenson, and Jough Psmythe (the latter only sounds ordinary!).
Banana guns, the appeal of dirt clods, Jough's new friend/baseball manager Elliot, and a traveling circus sideshow without a circus are just a few of the jokes you'll come across in Soup's offbeat first outing. The book evokes the humor of writers like Douglas Adams or, according to Kirkus, Dave Barry. (Be sure to pay attention to the way the circus sideshow has humanely gotten rid of its wild animals.)
As head of the Center for Unsolicited Advice, Dr. Cuthbert Soup pauses every so often to give readers advice loosely related to the narrative. For example, we have a page titled "Some Generous Advice on Gift Giving" that clarifies:
"Good gifts: A bottle of champagne, a box of fine Belgian chocolates, the Statue of Liberty.
Bad gifts: A bottle of shampoo, a box of fine Belgian matches, the Trojan horse."
The plot of A Whole Nother Story occasionally meanders and stalls, while characters seem to be introduced in much the same way people walk onstage to perform in a vaudeville review. But I think you'll find you won't care. This book is simply a lot of fun. And yes, it's obviously the first in a series, so there's more Soup to come. As the great Lewis Carroll might put it, "Soo--oop of the e--e--evening,/Beautiful, beauti--FUL SOUP!"
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 2009
I'm hoping that nobody notices that Santa read the copy that was under the Christmas tree! What a terrific read. I've been telling my husband my favorite parts, but there are too many to list here. If you're looking for a book that will keep you entertained while you read it to your kids or one that you want to read when they're done, this is it. The humor appeals to young and old alike with enough adventure and twists and turns to keep all levels interested. A great find. Hope there will be more from Dr. Soup.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2009
A perfect book for any age. As an adult reading to my children I had to stop several times because I was laughing so hard. The suspense also had us all on the edge of our seats. My children loved the adventure and laughed out loud on every, or at least every other, page! A great choice for a clean, exciting adventure book loaded with humor. Loved it!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2009
What a great story for all ages. The humor is clean and clever. We especially loved the "unsolicited advice" given throughout the story. Cuthbert Soup is on our list of new favorite authors. Can't wait for the sequel!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2010
As a fifth grade teacher, I'm constantly on the lookout for new stories to get my students interested in reading. Well, I hit the jackpot with this one. I love exposing kids to a wide range of stories, and I really think this one is pretty original and different than most others out there. This has to be one of my favorite read-aloud books of all time, because of the wide variety of characters (and accents) I'm able to portray as we read aloud. The book contains a lot of humor that might go over some kids' heads, but there is plenty that does not. I didn't really know what to expect, and I liked it that way. The story has a great pay-off and yes, it leads to a sequel. But my class was unanimous in their approval of this story and groaned every day when I had to stop. If you want a break from Percy Jackson, give this book a try. I think you'll be glad you did!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2010
With a lively spirit full of good humor, exhilarating adventure and much thoughtful advice, Dr. Cuthbert Soup narrates this quirky tale of one gifted inventor who is on the run with his family. The Cheesemans have been forced into hiding, fleeing rival spies and thugs who are all eager to get their hands on the time machine Ethan has been building. Accompanied by Pinky the psychic dog and Steve the notoriously sassy sock puppet, the family packs into their station wagon, making modifications to the device as they go.
The story begins as Ethan is nearing the end of his labor on the time machine when the Cheesemans are visited by top-secret agents who suddenly show up on their doorstep. These spies first appeal to the Cheesemans to simply hand over the device, playing the card that "it is all for the greater good" but with clearly unscrupulous motives. Ethan's wife, Olivia, courageously refuses and shuts the door in their faces, only to fall prey shortly after to an unexplained illness. Olivia's failing health prompts her to see a physician, a man who seems shady and suspicious. Sadly enough, she succumbs to her ailment quickly, leaving behind three children (Barton, Saffron and Crandall), all of whom will miss her dearly.
The tragic loss of his wife makes it all too clear that the invention has put them in peril, but it also changes Ethan's purpose as traveling back in time is now the only possible way of reuniting with her. After Pinky warns the family of more thugs on the way, they pack up and leave for good, keeping the machine safe in the back of the car. Their travels take them to many new places and homes, all of which they must leave in short time. In spite of the fact that the Cheeseman children are "smart, pleasant, witty, attractive, polite, and relatively odor free," friendship is one thing they happen to know little of, as constant traveling makes it impossible to get to know people. But they are still a happy, charming bunch who goes about life with a fresh outlook and a spirit of adventure. New friends they do make along the way, managing somehow to play as children do and to be good Samaritans whenever they can.
Two strangely appealing creatures of A WHOLE NOTHER STORY positively steal the show: Pinky and Steve, both eccentric, bona fide members of the Cheeseman clan. Pinky is a true hero, being lovable, sweet, hairless and exceptionally dependable. On top of that, Pinky is psychic --- quite a unique power in a family pet. Her ability isn't an inborn one, but obtained through a strange kind of toilet accident. After Ethan discards Olivia's stash of pills in the toilet bowl, he walks into another room. Meanwhile, Pinky slips in for a drink, but the tainted water causes a frightful fit in her. The dog seems to have gone mad, running in circles and banging her head against walls, but when she awakens, she possesses a newfound power to sense evil intentions and predict approaching danger. This turns out to be quite a useful skill in the situation that the Cheesemans have landed themselves in.
Steve, too, is a vital member of the family and seems to be the world's most sarcastic sock puppet. Conversations with Steve are often interesting and unpredictable, even more so because Crandall never takes him off. Steve is Crandall's homemade gift from his mother --- one of the few surviving mementos of her. Steve's personality, however, is quite his own and drastically different from the boy's. His snide remarks sometimes leave people surprised, but everyone considers him a separate entity. Steve is one of a kind and almost as important as the other Cheesemans.
Though Pinky is a supremely effective watchdog, the Cheesemans do become tired of running and must eventually face the spies who hunt them. They are aided by their scientific knowledge, their dedication to the power of invention, and the strength of their own family. Of course, this means that Ethan's legendary time machine will eventually be put to the test. It's a given that the device will work --- after all, Ethan is one of the world's most brilliant minds.
For young readers who enjoy wry comedy and adventure, A WHOLE NOTHER STORY is a rare find. Its tone is light and amusing, and the jokes honestly never seem to end. The main story is entertaining enough on its own, but between chapters, Dr. Soup offers curious and varied advice. He himself calls this his "unsolicited advice," and it covers a wide range of topics; these include dealing with ghosts and the dangers of technology, and even a fun recipe for squash. The type of jesting here is reminiscent of humorous authors like Lemony Snicket and Shel Silverstein. It's bound to leave you with some chuckles and more than a few smiles, and I would say that it's the perfect book for young boys, knowing that my own will surely enjoy it. There is also a satisfying, open ending, leaving the possibility for a sequel wide open. I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for more books from Dr. Cuthbert Soup in the future, hoping this won't be the last of the Cheesemans.
--- Reviewed by Melanie Smith
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2011
Overall Review: Have you ever wondered what moths are thinking, always running into hot lightbulbs at night? Did you know that the fear of the number 13 has a name? Have you ever really wanted a fantastic (and super silly) recipe for Squash? Find these answers and a whole lot more Unsolicited Advice inside `A Whole Nother Story'! Silliness is the order of the day in this absolutely hilarious book! I was laughing before the story even started! The humor is dry and sly--it sometimes took me totally by surprise and I think I found myself laughing out loud more in this book than any other book I've ever read! All of the characters are funny and interesting. Mr. Cheeseman, his children (who will remain nameless since their names do change in the course of the story), their dog Pinky (who becomes psychic as a byproduct of his habit of drinking out of the toilet), and Steve (the sock puppet), are all on the run from some `bad guys' who want Mr. Cheeseman's invention: A Time Machine. The bad guys are hilarious, though! There are the guys with number names (Mr. 5, Mr. 29, Mr. 88 and Mr. 207) who have a lot of conversations about the difference between crushing, smashing, smooshing, etc. There is the international superspy with his assistant who is a minkey (monkey)--and his monkey's pet goldfish that rides in the back seat of the car. And we can't forget the guys with the letter names: Agents Aitch Dee and El Kyoo. Ha! There are so many other fun characters we meet along the way--especially Captain Jibby and his traveling circus sideshow, who aren't bad guys...or are they? If you want a book that will keep you giggling, this book will not disappoint you! Lastly, there are just two more things you need to know: First, there is a cliffhanger at the end. Second, there are probably two Bengal Tigers loose somewhere in Utah...or maybe it was Vermont... Either way, you might want to be on the lookout! Overall rating is 5 out of 5 stars!
PROFANITY: One very mild instance
VIOLENCE: A few mild instances
SEXUAL CONTENT: None
MATURE THEMES: Mild
RECOMMENDED AGE GROUP: 9+
I knew this was going to be a great book when a character calls another character `stupid', and he retorts with "Stupid is a bad word!" Great fun! The only instance of profanity was the word some pirates used to describe the circumstances of when a storm came up and lightning struck their ship 12 times. There is some violence. A character is shot in the leg. Someone is poisoned and dies. Some characters are attacked by a Tibetan Yak (they're not hurt, though). There is a big fight at the end--a character is stabbed by a swiss army knife, another is hit in the head with a rock, yet another is hit by a truck, and one more is hit by a pole and his leg is fractured. None of them die. There is one character that `dies', but it's not actually alive in the first place. I read this out loud to my kids and we really enjoyed reading it together. They're now begging me to read part two to them! They get most of the humor and enjoy the `action', but I can tell you they're missing a whole lot of those one liners! So, really, I can recommend this for all ages as both adults and kids will find all of it fun and engaging. Even my daughter who is very anti `action' loved this book! So that tells me this is a very tame and Squeaky Clean read for ages 9+!
This review was written by Emily
A Squeaky Clean Reads Book Reviewer
To see more fantastic books on review, visit us at squeakycleanreads!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2010
I bought this book for my 9 year old son. We read something together every day. We nearly fell out of our chairs several times laughing at this book. Angry Tibetan Yak indeed!! The creativity and imagination in both the characters and the plot was outstanding! The weaving together of all the story lines was sheer genius! We grew to love the Cheeseman family and the other characters. (The good ones anyway). We cannot wait for the next book whatever it's name is because it is on our MUST HAVE list now! Hurry up Dr. Cuthbert Soup!! We are waiting!!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2010
This was a quick read and very much like the Unfortunate events series and Terces society books. I enjoyed the story and the wit. I can't wait for the second one, it was left as a cliffhanger. The author narrating directly to the reader along with quips of hilarious advice, makes this a book children will want to finish.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2010
Gold Star Award Winner!
Mr. Cheeseman is an inventor in the process of inventing something miraculous and marvelous in all sorts of ways. However, he has to finish it first. The problem is that it would be disastrous if it was to fall into the wrong hands - and many wrong hands are after it.
Forced to flee their house using their wits and an inertia ray (a cool gadget that actually slows down one's pursuers should you need one), Mr. Cheeseman and his three clean, polite, relatively odor-free children will attempt to outrun villains, super spies, secret agents, a monkey, and government agencies that are more secret than the CIA.
With no way to make friends and always having to change their names, this misfit family will do whatever it takes to be able to help Mr. Cheeseman finish his invention and resume a normal life.
Will life ever be the same for the Cheeseman family? Will Mr. Cheeseman succeed in finishing his invention, or will evil get its hands on it? And which of their pursuers are evil - and are any of them good?
A WHOLE NOTHER STORY is a fast-paced, action-packed, entertaining adventure from cover to cover. With humorous interruptions from the book's narrator, a backtalking, funny sock puppet, and characters that will make you laugh your head off, reluctant and avid readers alike will enjoy reading this book.
Reviewed by: Kira M