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|Cousin Irv from Mars|
Author: Kaplan, Bruce Eric
Teddy is not looking forward to a visit from Cousin Irv, who comes from Mars and likes to vaporize things.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: LG
Reading Level: 3.70
Points: .5 Quiz: 159116
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: K-2
Reading Level: 3.30
Points: 1.0 Quiz: 60003
Kirkus Reviews (04/15/13)
School Library Journal (08/01/13)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (A) (07/13)
Full Text Reviews:
Bulletin for the Center... - 07/01/2013 Teddy didn’t even know he had a cousin from Mars, but now Irv has come to stay with the family. Teddy’s grownup Martian cousin may be an exotic green guy with antennae, but he’s also a passive-aggressive kvetch with a ton of annoying habits. When Cousin Irv has to escort Teddy to school, however, Irv shows off his fancy electromagnetic ray and vaporizes everything in the classroom (including the teacher who tries to spoil the fun), causing all of the other students to clamor for Teddy and Irv’s attention. Cousin Irv and Teddy become the best of friends (“Cousin Irv let Teddy eat pizza in the bath because he didn’t know you didn’t do that”), until Irv has to go home and Teddy must learn to live without his new friend—but not for long, since it looks like Teddy’s family will be moving to Mars. The lengthy text drags a little, and the story’s fairly predictable, but Kaplan has a wry voice, adding one-liner commentary to the tale (“Other people’s coats make you feel so much safer than your own”). Kaplan, better known as a cartoonist for the New Yorker, showcases his distinctive style—his ink drawings with chunky feet, bulging eyes, and indistinct objects are here enhanced with messy watercolor that splashes beyond the lines in only a handful of pastel hues. Irv, with his leaf-green tint and big, expressive mouth, especially steals the show. However, the large amount of white space and lack of illustrative detail make the text do most of the heavy lifting for this story, a task it’s not quite up to. The illustrations are certainly kid-friendly, though and this could easily pair with titles such as Pam Smallcomb’s Earth to Clunk (BCCB 7/11 and Arthur Yorinks’ Company’s Coming and Company’s Going (BCCB 1/02) for an out-of-this-world storytime. TA - Copyright 2013 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
School Library Journal - 08/01/2013 Gr 4–6—In this picture book, Teddy's mother's cousin visits from Mars and must sleep in the youngster's bedroom. Throughout, commentary directed at readers moves the story along, giving them an earful about Cousin Irv and his noisy breathing. Meanwhile, Teddy's mother tells Irv that Teddy doesn't want him to know that her son has no friends. When the man takes out his electromagnetic ray in Teddy's classroom and vaporizes objects, Teddy is suddenly popular, and his feelings about his relative shift: "You know, if you only see what you don't like about someone, you never see what you do like about them." Nothing lasts long, though, and when Irv's vacation is over, disappointed Teddy admits, "We all know, or should know if we weren't always forgetting, accepting things is the only way to be happy." But there's more. Teddy's dad gets a job on Mars, and the family moves in with Coursin Irv. The unique pen-and-ink and watercolor artwork on white backgrounds is spare and looks rudimentary, and the characters have crude, claylike expressions.The pictures convey a sense of space, which adds to the pacing of the story and emphasizes the trajectory of the visit. Kids might be inspired by Kaplan's easy-to-imitate style. Nevertheless, the book is likely to have a limited audience of sophisticated readers.—Sara Lissa Paulson, The American Sign Language and English Lower School, New York City - Copyright 2013 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.