Booklist (October 15, 2011 (Vol. 108, No. 4))
Grades 4-7. In this highly amusing new series starter, 12-year-old Rob Burnside chronicles his middle-school missteps in the graphic style of the famously wimpy Greg Heffley. Like Greg, Rob punctuates his storytelling with funny drawings, though his sketches often feature imagined outcomes or exaggerated versions of reality. Similarly, Rob has to deal with a challenge more daunting than gym class or middle-school girls (though he has to deal with them, too): a creature that has spontaneously generated from the materials in Rob’s remarkably messy closet. The closet started out as a place for “lab supplies” (condiments, Play-Doh, mud, etc.), but it has become a place for “things I don’t want to deal with anymore.” These include the books that his mother regularly thrusts upon him. Skye gives Rob a self-deprecating charm and highlights the pleasures of books both subtly and effectively. The book’s titular hero is an antic combination of Frankenstein’s monster and Willy Wonka; the next book, it is hinted, will feature a hybrid of Harry Potter and Chewbacca.