GOBBLEDY, A NOVEL
Written by Lis Anna-Langston
Illustrated by Rich Powell
Spark Press—Oct. 2020
226 Pages Age 8—12
Genre: Middle Grade Novel, Fiction
Themes: Grief, Friendship, Family Relationships
GOBBLEDY is a fun-filled holiday story that adds up to two brothers, three friends, unlimited jars of peanut butter, a ketchup factory, and one little alien far, far from home.(from back cover)
“Tiny dots of stars and planets form constellations above my head. Orion. The great hunter. I’m only eleven, but I know a lot about the stars. It’s where my mom lives now.”
Why I like Gobbledy, A Novel
Dexter, 11, and Dougal, 8 ½, are brothers who are as different as night and day. At school and at home, Dexter is considered a troublemaker—Dad even keeps a “Behavior Chart” that goes up to “Code Red,” meaning Dexter’s grounded for life (or would be, if dad could enforce it). Dougal is a mini-dad; his speech and mannerisms imitate dad’s perfectly. He also worries about Dexter’s behavior. The third kid is Fiona, Dexter’s neighbor, and friend. She’s extremely capable with technology, and understands Dexter. Together they go to a nearby woods to check Fi’s surveillance cameras. They find glowing mushrooms and a similarly glowing rock. Dexter pockets the rock for his cricket colony, while Fi readjusts her cameras.
Later that day, the rock is gone from the cricket jar, but in its place is a weird little insect—or so Dexter believes. Dougal feeds the insect and it begins to grow, and grow, and GROW! The creature is, according to Fi, “a cross between a prairie dog, a chinchilla, and a cartoon.” The illustrations capturing Gobbledy’s sudden growth will have readers laughing at Dexter’s new dilemma. Gobbledy is adorable and does look like a cartoon character.
Dexter grows attached and names it Gobbledy in honor of his HUGE appetite. Dougal is not happy about hiding a possible alien in the attic, right under dad’s nose. Dougal insists they help Gobbledy find his way back home, but when the little guy shows them pictures, it is apparent there is no longer a home to go back to. After a Google search, the kids find a local Planetary Society and email them for assistance. Will Gobbledy’s fate and future lay in the hands of three young kids or will the Planetary Society step in to help Gobbledy?
Gobbledy, A Novel is billed as a holiday story, and it does take place very near to Kissmas (Christmas), but the story is richer than a once-a-year-read. Kids will love the well-conceived and developed characters. Gobbledy is a believable, intelligent, lovably quirky alien. Though Dexter and brother Dougal would not normally combine skills to help each other, Lis Anna-Langston convincingly brings the two brothers together. Though each sees the problem differently, both have Gobbledy’s interests at heart. Dexter, Dougal, and Fi, nicely balance each other.
The story is multilayered. Dexter has troubles at school and home, and now has an alien he loves and feels he needs to protect. Fi is crucial to the story as Dexter’s only real friend. Through Fi, Dexter gains confidence as the two care for Gobbledy. Kids will love the story, finding Gobbledy comical yet sweet. With his long, tufted ears, 8-digit toes, and bright, inquisitive eyes, Gobbledy would make a cute stuffed animal. (Sales would cause mayhem not seen since the Cabbage Patch kids.)
Anna-Langston’s story is believable on every level. She smoothly transfers readers from school to home and then into the woods with little struggle. Dad keeps the boys jumping. He is still overcome with grief from losing his wife nearly a year ago. Running the house, raising the boys, and working at the ketchup factory overwhelms Dad, who is constantly stressed. Kids will love the ketchup factory, one of many comical points in the story. The writing draws pictures readers can easily see, and the realistic illustrations will help those having trouble visualizing characters, or the story.
Adults are minimal in Gobbledy, A Novel, as they should be in kids’ lit. Four adults enter Gobbledy’s story: two from the Planetary Society, Principal Carlotta “Snarly” Watson, and Dexter’s father. Yet it is the adults who round out the story of Dexter’s school troubles. It is a scene kids will absolutely love. Many creative scenes, including Gobbledy helping Dexter’s family imaginatively celebrate Kissmas, show Gobbledy is more similar to earth’s inhabitants than he is different.
There are no loose ends hanging around at close of the final page, but curiosity, and a genuine love for this story’s character, will fill readers with questions. Where is Gobbledy now? Does he stay with Dexter, and if so, how does dad react when he discovers the cute squatter in his attic? Gobbledy and his new family stay with you for a long time. After reading Gobbledy, A Novel, readers will want for more. I sincerely hope Ms. Anna-Langston has more to tell us about Gobbledy’s adventures in his new home.
Illustrations Rendered in pencil.
To Learn More About Lis Anna-Langston: https://www.lisannalangston.com/
To Learn More About Artist Rich Powell: https://richpowell.com/
Available at Amazon: Gobbledy, A Novel
GOBBLEDY, A NOVEL. Text Copyright © 2020 by Lis Anna-Langston. Illustrations copyright © 2020 by Rich Powell. Published by Spark Press/Book Sparks, Phoenix, AR.
Copyright © 2020 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
[729—word count-review only]
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