By: Cuthbert Soup
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Publication Date: December 2010
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: December 21, 2010
Ethan Cheeseman, a brilliant scientist, and his three equally brilliant kids - well, at least his daughter Maggie is, er, I mean Penny, as she changes her name during the story. Gosh, Maggie/Penny knows quantum physics and can quote Shakespeare. But I digress...The familiy sets out on a somewhat dangerous journey in their super secret time-travelling LVR (Luminal Velocity Regulator – remember that, there might be a quiz later!). They are heading to the past, 1668 to be exact, to end the Curse of the White Gold Chalice and save their mother, Olivia Cheeseman, who was murdered by the evil Mr. 5. Accompanied by the members of Captain Jibby’s Traveling Circus Sideshow, the Cheesemans set out for what they hope will be a simple mission.
Alas, on the way to 1668, the LVR, which looks strangely like it was put together with parts from an old motor home, hits some turbulence and crash lands. Has the crew landed in 1668? Hmmm…. They better get out of the LVR and start exploring – that is, if it is safe to get out of the LVR!
Another Whole Nother Story is the comical story of the Cheesmans’ adventures, or perhaps more appropriately, misadventures, as they travel in the past. Along the way they meet lots of interesting people and creatures as they try to return a chalice to its rightful owner and end a centuries old curse. By ending the curse, they in turn hope to save their mother. How you ask could they save their murdered mother? Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out!
There is a lot going on in this book, most of it funny. There’s a wicked good sea battle, a traveling companion who happens to be a fox, deception, mystery, a ghost, and a bumbling evil dude who is intent on getting the Cheesemans. And don’t forget, always, always listen to your dog when she growls, especially if she happens to be a hairless fox terrier like the Cheesemans’ dog Pinky. She’s usually right!
This is not a book that hits spots where the action dies or gets lost in dialog. While there is plenty of talking going on (most of it humorous), there is constant, okay, almost constant, action that should keep middle school readers engaged throughout the story.
The book is narrated by Dr. Cuthbert Hubert Egbert Soup, who, we are told in a brief biography at the start of the book, “was born, at a very young age…” Turning a few pages and reading a profound quote attributed to the doctor, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him participate in synchronized diving,” made it apparent that this was not going to be a run-of-the-mill middle grade reader. No, this book is quite funny, even for a boring old adult like me!
After many of the chapters, Dr. Cuthbert injects a brilliant thought, explanation or just plain random story (okay, they really do relate to the story but gosh, they were awfully silly). I never thought I’d see Einstein’s theory of relativity explained using elephants! But Cuthbert does it, and does it with aplomb. This book, the second in a series by Dr. Cuthbert, offers plenty of adventure and silliness and has an open-ended ending that screams, “sequel!”