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The Neddidad: How Neddie Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization

Review

The Neddidad: How Neddie Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization

Most of the world (or at least the segment that listens to public radio) knows Daniel Pinkwater primarily as that funny guy who talks about children's books on Saturday morning's "Weekend Edition" program. Pinkwater has been around for much longer than that, though, coming up with a string of consistently hilarious --- and consistently off-the-wall --- novels and picture books for as long as I can remember. From 1977's THE HOBOKEN CHICKEN EMERGENCY (about a 266-pound pet chicken) to 2005's irreverent take on school in THE EDUCATION OF ROBERT NIFKIN, Pinkwater has time and again proven himself as one of the funniest writers for young people.

Pinkwater's latest, THE NEDDIAD, is no exception. Part of Pinkwater's style is a certain playfulness, a wide-ranging imagination that relies on comic situations, one-liners and images as much as on plot. On the face of it, the concept of THE NEDDIAD might seem absurd; after all, its subtitle is "How Neddie Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization." But Pinkwater manages to make it all make sense --- or at least, to make his readers laugh too hard to care whether it does or not.

Neddie Wentworthstein lives in Chicago a few years after World War II. When Neddie idly mentions that he'd love to eat at the Brown Derby restaurant in Los Angeles, Neddie's enthusiastic father (who'd made a fortune selling shoelaces to the military) suggests that the whole family move to California to see the landmark for themselves. Neddie loves adventure --- and the movies --- so he's eager to have an adventure of his own. "I expected, we all expected, to do exciting things," he writes, "This is why going away on a big adventure all the way across the country seemed normal to me."

Neddie's trip probably won't seem normal to just about anyone else, though. Starting with Neddie's mysterious encounter with a Navajo shaman named Melvin, continuing with his acquisition of a highly desirable turtle figurine and his separation from his parents, and from there following Neddie all the way to Los Angeles, where he gains new friends, a new school and a whole slew of enemies, THE NEDDIAD is truly an epic journey. 

Part road trip adventure, part school story, part adventure, part fantasy and all hilarious, THE NEDDIAD is outrageously unique and undeniably the work of Daniel Pinkwater's comic genius.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on February 16, 2009

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

  • Publication Date: February 16, 2009
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Sandpiper
  • ISBN-10: 0547133677
  • ISBN-13: 9780547133676