On Account of the Gum

Talk about a story with a big buildup. In On Account of the Gum, Adam Rex's divine comedy of errors, a kid who falls asleep chewing a bubble-tastic blob awakens to a rude surprise: "That's the gum. Right there. That you got in your hair."

The kid's family members have a go with the scissors, only to lose them in the sticky pink morass. No problem: the kid's family consults the Internet, which yields advice on how to get scissors and gum out of hair. Unfortunately--and who could have seen this coming?--the prescribed two sticks of butter get stuck in there too. On it goes, thanks to a sabotaging surfeit of well-meaning family members and community helpers--e.g., "Your grandpa, who said that your aunt was mistaken, is mostly to blame for the noodles and bacon." Not that the omniscient narrator is without culpability: "Because of the grass that you got in your hair, I assumed that your rabbit could help us in there?"

Rex (School's First Day of School; Nothing Rhymes with Orange; Unstoppable), a master of meshuggaas, hastens along the humor with caricaturish illustrations in a fruity palette perfectly suited to the asimmer-with-irritation kid's hair wear, which comes to resemble a Carmen Miranda hat gone berserk. But underneath the silliness, On Account of the Gum harbors a substantive, empowering message. To borrow the book's idiom: There's a point to all of this rat-a-tat rhyme/ It turns out the kid had the cure the whole time. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author

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