Spies & a sock puppet: A Whole Nother Story

A Whole Nother Story, by Dr. Cuthbert Soup (lexile: 900; AR book level: 5.6; 264 pp)

Run for your lives!  That’s what the Cheeseman family is doing.  Ethan (Mr Cheeseman) and his three “witty, attractive, polite, and relatively odor-free children” are fleeing top secret government agents, international super-spies (including a chimpanzee who speaks multiple animal languages), and thugs from an evil corporation in this rollicking, witty, funny tale.

You see, Mr Cheeseman and his wife invented a “remarkable device” so powerful that everyone wants to get their hands on it.  Someone killed Mrs Cheeseman over it, and now he and the children (currently Jough, Maggie, and Gerard — for security, they change their names each time they move) are on the run.  Fortunately, they are accompanied by their psychic hairless dog, Pinky, who can sense when danger is near, and Gerard’s sock puppet, Steve.  And along the way they meet some other unusual characters, including a cowboy poet and the misfit members of a traveling circus.  (Imagine a tightrope walker named Dizzy and a fortune teller with short-term memory loss.)

The Cheesemans end up in a small town, hoping they can finally settle down.  Jough wants to play baseball, Maggie wants a friend, and Gerard (with Steve) wants to work on his dirt clod collection.  But the bad guys are not far behind.  The climax includes a fast-paced final showdown, some surprising revelations, and a cliff-hanger ending that tells you there’s a sequel.

This crazy adventure is narrated by Dr Cuthbert Soup, presented as the director of the National Center for Unsolicited Advice, whose dry humor will remind many of Lemony Snicket or Douglas Adams (of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame).   The story moves quickly and the characters are funny.  There are two sequels so far — Another Whole Nother Story and No Other Story.


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