Author Nathan Bransford
Jacob Wonderbar is the hero of the tale, a sixth grade prankster who gets into trouble almost every week. If he’s not using the school fire sprinklers for target practice, he’s letting the air out of his teacher’s bicycle tires. His stalwart companions, Dexter and Sarah Daisy, are no less to blame.
Coming from a broken home (his father left him and his mother) could be part of the reason for Jacob’s mischievous nature. His friend Dexter, a more cautious boy from a well-ordered environment, and Sarah, who is much smarter and more precocious than either of her companions, try to keep him grounded but are usually too caught up in his games to succeed.
When the trio meet a man in a silver suit who offers to trade them his spaceship for a corn dog, they jump at the chance. Unfortunately after they take off, they break the universe and get kidnapped by Mick, a smarmy space pirate kid. They have plenty of adventures, traveling to planets inhabited by substitute teachers and deranged scientists, where time moves at an odd pace and the air smells like burp breath.
Amidst all the alien silliness and strangeness, the kids have very human concerns. Will they be able to return home now that they’ve put a rent in the universe? Will Jacob perhaps find his long lost father among the stars? How frantic must their parents be? These worries along with the friendship Jacob, Dexter, and Sarah have forged are at the heart of the story.
Keeping track of the kids as they skip from planet to planet can, at times, be daunting, and remembering what challenges confronted them at each stop can be a challenge in itself. However, the story has enough charm to overcome these minuscule quibbles.
Jacob Wonderbar and the Space Kapow is geared for youngsters in the 9 to 11 age group, but kids of all ages would get a charge out of this story with its planets named Numonia and Paisley, and a wonderful talking spaceship called Praiseworthy. It is a truly imaginative tale that, with its strong trio of characters, could quite possibly be the first book of a new young readers series.