Here’s a cliché I won’t be using anytime soon: “The truth is stranger than fiction.”
Return to Augie Hobble is weird. It’s unsettling. It’s got moments when you stop and say to yourself, “What? WHAT? Wait a minute…” You’re just reading along, learning about Augie, his highly allergic best friend, the sad theme park his family operates and its wacky employees, the way he failed Creative Arts. You might be expecting something kind of goofy – given that it’s from the author of The Stinky Cheeseman and Other Fairly Stupid Tales — but then WHAM! Things start happening. It’s chaotic and sad and a little gut-wrenching at points. There’s a werewolf, a ghost, a girl, and a sudden death. Bullies show up, too — really mean ones. Oh, and Cinderella shatters her glass slipper and severs an artery in her foot. Right. There’s that, too.
So it’s not your usual middle grade wacky action adventure, traditional school story, or gentle read about a family going through some changes. Stranger than the usual fiction? Yes. But there’s loads to talk about. I think I like it. I might have to read it again just to be sure.