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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Cousin Irv from Mars, written and illustrated by Bruce Eric Kaplan. Simon & Schuster, 2013. $19.99 ages 5 and up

"When Teddy and Cousin Irv got to school, everyone gathered around them. None of them had ever met anyone from Mars. When the kids started to get bored, Cousin Irv took out his electromagnetic ray and vaporized a few things in the classroom. The teacher said no electromagnetic rays were allowed in the classroom."

Big mistake!

Now, we are on to a totally different type of cousin. Irv is from Mars, and Teddy is not too keen on having him visit. No one knows him very well. The family is 'not close'! Obviously!

He's late when he arrives, and has a number of complaints:

"But my leg hurts from being cramped in the saucer. Plus I've had to go to the bathroom for days."

Cue the laughter and we are only two pages into this humorous, irreverent interplanetary visit. His first social faux pas leads to his eating everything in the kitchen...'the whole kitchen'! Then, he is unwisely given space in Teddy's room. He breathes loudly, he needs a comfortable pillow:

"Cousin Irv was quiet for a moment, then told Teddy how he had gone to many doctors who all said he carried his stress in his neck and needed a comfortable pillow."

Now, Teddy has a lumpy pillow. Irv makes comments about Teddy's choice in clothes, plays with all of his toys...and is easily bored. Teddy can't wait for him to make the return trip to Mars. And then, his parents send Irv to school with Teddy. That is real cause for alarm...that is until Irv uses his electromagnetic ray to vaporize a  few things. When the teacher admonishes him, guess what happens to the teacher. Teddy begins to see the advantages in Irv's visit.

Then, just when Teddy is beginning to feel better about this alien cousin, Irv decides to return to Mars. It seems he doesn't like the coffee on earth. Well, what can Teddy do? Irv has to do what he thinks best, and Teddy must accept it. There are a few delays before his departure. When he has finally blasted off, Teddy finds himself missing Irv terribly...until he learns his father has taken a new job and the family must move.

Can you hazard a guess at their destination?

Full of wise humor and cartoon-like artwork (with lots of white space), children and adults are sure to enjoy this funny family story. It is perfect fare for a most enjoyable readaloud.

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