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The Neddiad: How Neddie Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization Hardcover – April 23, 2007
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From School Library Journal
Grade 5–9—A bright and breezy adventure with a smart and funny narrator, this story is part historical travelogue, part Saturday matinee, with bits of turtle lore and Catskills stand-up comedy. Los Angeles in the late 1940s is a magical place of swashbuckling movie stars, restaurants shaped like hats and doughnuts, tar pits, fancy private schools, and Neddie Wentworthstein. His eccentric, wealthy father has decided to relocate the family from Chicago to L.A. On the journey, a shaman named Melvin gives Neddie a turtle carved from a meteorite, possibly the rarest and most precious one in existence, and the only thing standing between humanity and the destruction of all civilization. Accidentally left behind in Flagstaff, AZ, Neddie is befriended by Seamus Finn, his movie-star dad, and Billy the Phantom Bellhop. The four visit the Grand Canyon and are held up at gunpoint by Sandor Eucalyptus, who is looking for the turtle. When they make it to Los Angeles, well, then things get even weirder. The ending is a little abrupt and kids may not get all the references, but they'll get the mystery, the excitement, the friendships, the aliens from outer space, the battle between good and extraordinarily awful evil, and the live woolly mammoth that performs circus tricks in a replica of the Roman Forum (told you things get pretty weird). Fans of Sid Fleischman will find much to like in this goofy and lovingly nostalgic historical fantasy.—Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In the 1940s, young Nedworth Wentworthstein is traveling across America with his family when he meets an Indian shaman, who slips him a sacred stone turtle. Ned soon discovers that bad guys are after the turtle, and he enlists the help of newfound friends (including the ghost of a bellboy) to help him protect his treasure. Eventually, though, the turtle falls into the wrong hands, and Ned is forced to confront terrifying, magical beasts. There are actually two novels here: one centers around the supernatural world, where Ned's epic battles play out; the other details 1940s America, from the pleasures of riding the Super Chief to the slightly off-kilter culture of postwar Southern California. The two parts don't really come together into a cohesive whole; the plotline that includes observations of late 1940s America provides the stronger narrative. There are plenty of funny lines and scenes, though, and fans of Pinkwater will probably enjoy this messy, entertaining enterprise. Todd Morning
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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There is no city of Illiad, and Achilles wrath comes from Sandor Eucalyptus and Sholmos Bunyip. And I didn't count but I'm pretty sure that there were not 15,693 lines or dactylic hexameter. And I'm not skilled enough in dactylic hexameter to pinpoint hexameter when I see it. And instead of beginning our tale at the end of the Trojan War we begin at the end of World War II.
The story is told in short chapters almost episodic or episodial (if those are words). So you will have 79 episodes in Neddie's journey.
Anyhow the nuts and bolts are that Neddie is going to take a train, he'll go to Hollywood and he will save civilization. And you will meet Iggy (otherwise thought of as Odysseus). So Iggy's journey will be continued in the Yggyssey.
Oh - and you should read it aloud - it does have a rhythm, and all great epics were meant to be read aloud - even to music.
The Neddiad and the sequel The YggYsseY = The Iliad and The Odyssey. I really wish I could say I figured this out all on my own. But nope. I'm not quite that smart yet.
We were trying to indoctrinate 9 year old Milla as a future new member into our book club of long-timer babes. She came well-prepared to her first book club. Had a list of questions to ask us all (really good and thought-provoking questions). We were trying to act all adult and everything but I think she saw through us.
Then as we were all leaving, Milla sort of whispered to me: "It's about The Iliad and The Odyssey." I was gobsmacked. Why hadn't I figured that out? Why did it take someone fifty [mumble mumble] years younger than I to figure it out? I'm thinking she's too smart to be a member of our book club.
She wants to borrow my copy of The YggYsseY. I don't know. Maybe I'll have to make her teach me a few things in return.
BTW - Lizard Music is one of the best books ever written - past, present, and of course, future. The Neddiad is standing right up there along side it.
"The Neddiad" is very difficult to describe. I read it out loud to my 8- and 10-year-old sons and we LOVED it. It's written from the POV of the life of a post-WW2 boy as he hangs out and goes about his daily business. Neddie weaves his story in a The author's tone is a delightful deadpan -- matter-of-fact, witty, sarcastic, not afraid to poke fun, but in an awesomely curious, good-humored, game-for-anything kind of way. It also makes for a GREAT bedtime read-aloud because every chapter is extremely short (4 or 5 pages long, tops), easy to stop and start, yet you somehow always want to keep going. I work in a children's library and this will be one I will recommend to 4th graders and up who are looking for something off the beaten path.
Pinkwater is sort of like the crazy Uncle Eddie who would come to your house at Thanksgiving and Christmas. All the kids loved him. You're Dad thought he was a hoot, but your Mom sort of wasn't all that thrilled with having him around. You weren't entirely sure whose uncle, if any, he actually was. But, he was always fun in an off kilter way.
I love Pinkwater, and just always have a warm and fuzzy feeling towards him and his characters while I'm reading his books. Maybe you will too.
Anyway, here's the deal on "The Neddiad", (which also has sort of sequels - "The Yggyssey" and "Adventures of the Cat-Whiskered Girl".) Neddie has fantastic adventures centered around a sacred turtle carving. But the plot is irrelevant, really, and it pretty much doesn't matter what actually happens. In truth, this is a road trip book, and Neddie is for all practical purposes a middle grade Jack Kerouac. He meets people and talks to them, he makes friends, he gets chased, he looks at things, and he thinks about things.
And that's where the magic happens. Neddie is smart, observant and cheerful. His narration is deadpan, guileless and direct. He is open to experience and adventure. He is practical and open eyed. He has natural street smarts. But all of this is filtered through the sensibilities of a middle grader, so it has the innocent wonder and enthusiasm of that age. Pinkwater likes kids and the way their minds work, and a middle grader reading this book will sense the fact that this author likes him.
There is no drama, no problem, no social message in these books. The real lesson is that the world is neat and your going to be O.K. if you keep your eyes open. How cool is that?