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Review of Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey

Traction Man and the Beach OdysseyTraction Man and the Beach Odyssey
by Mini Grey; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary     Knopf     32 pp.
5/12     978-0-375-86952-5     $16.99
Library ed. 978-0-375-96952-2     $19.99

The adventuresome duo from Traction Man Is Here! (rev. 3/05) and Traction Man Meets Turbodog (rev. 9/08) hits the beach for a manly day of scuba diving, picnic security duty, and…makeovers? Once again Grey’s action-figure hero and his sidekick Scrubbing Brush inhabit the fanciful world-within-a-world of creative play. Though the boy who totes the pair along in his beach bag is nominally in control of their actions, once they’re underwater exploring a tide pool, or left alone together on the picnic blanket, they take on lives of their own. Traction Man’s valiant campaign to keep Grandma’s dog Truffles away from lunch while the family swims comes to naught when Truffles carries him off and buries him in the sand. Scrubbing Brush digs Traction Man out, but then a wave whisks them both away, landing them in the clutches of another young beachgoer, who has her own ideas of how to play. Grey takes obvious delight in poking fun at Traction Man’s machismo by dressing him in a pink sarong and plunking him into an ice-cream party with some Beach-Time Brenda dolls. As usual, the wry cartoon art is teeming with animate characters — even the picnic quiche has a face. In the end, there’s a refreshingly gender-neutral pooling of resources as Beach-Time Brenda and her pal help the boys dig an “exploration hole to the Center of the Earth,” after which the whole crew floats happily on a “pinkly paisley inflatable dinghy.” Relaxation accomplished!

From the July/August 2012 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Christine M. Heppermann About Christine M. Heppermann

Christine Heppermann is the author of Ask Me How I Got Here, Poisoned Apples, and the Backyard Witch series, co-authored with Ron Koertge (all Greenwillow) and of Backyard Chickens (Houghton).

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