What We Found in the Sofa and How it Saved the World, by Henry Clark, illustrated by Jeremy Holmes published in 2013 by Little, Brown and Company
“I have news,” Fiona announced, and sat down between us. “It turns out,” she said, “there are people out there who collect crayons.”
“Yeah,” said Freak. “They’re called five-year-olds.”
“No, they’re called adults, and some of them might pay good money for the zucchini crayon we found…I looked up zucchini crayon on the Internet. It’s one of over two dozen colors the crayon company doesn’t make anymore. It’s very hard to find. There were only five hundred made, for a special limited-edition box of crayons called Victory Garden…But the new machine…left out the zucchini crayon and put in two rutabagas instead…Most of the zucchini crayons wound up in a tray, and the tray got left on a radiator, and most of them melted.”
“So,” I said, “any zucchini crayon that survived the meltdown would be worth something? We could sell it through an Internet auction site.”
“That’s what I was thinking,” agreed Fiona.
Fiona, Freak, and River are an unlikely trio of middle-schoolers.
One day, quite out-of-the-blue, the three come upon an old sofa sitting alongside the road at their school bus stop. In its green cushions, they find an odd assortment of rubbish, including one crayon labeled zucchini green.
Little do they know that crayon marks the beginning of an extraordinary liason with an eccentric loner named Alf in an all-out race to save the planet from the diabolical plans of a guy named Edward Disin.
They’ll need the aid of a Double Six domino, Compulsive Completist Disorder, a jump rope, a cat named Mucus, and more wits and bravery than they realize they possess to outsmart, outrun, and outmaneuver Disin and his treacherous armies. In the end, it’s the ability to think for themselves, to creatively problem solve, that makes all the difference.
This sci-fi adventure is a crazy, compelling read for ages 11 and up. In addition to portals and other worlds, nanotechnology, creepy spies and almost certain death, there are nice underlying themes of friendship, and the power of individuals who think for themselves. A large helping of humor and three vivid personalities make us care about these kids from the opening pages.
I really enjoyed this novel. It’s fast-paced, entertaining, full of weird gizmos and off-beat solutions from an author who has written for MAD magazine if that gives you any hints. Lovely nods to A Wrinkle in Time are incorporated. There are sad backstories, glimpses of an alcoholic, abusive father, and gobs of danger, so consider these elements …yet predominantly it’s a thrilling, fun ride.