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Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars by Daniel Pinkwater

Leonard’s family has recently moved into a new apartment building in a new town, West Kangaroo Park, and he doesn’t like it. Leonard, who describes himself as a “short, portly kid, and I wear glasses”, hates his new school Bat Masterson Junior High, and he often wonders who “would be the lowest person in school if I dropped dead.” He soon meets Alan Mendelsohn, who is a lot like Leonard, and who claims to be from Mars. They go to a bookshop owned by Samuel Klugarsh, and he shows them a presentation in “Klugarsh Mind Control”. They aren’t convinced on it working, but they decide to buy the first course anyway. They soon discover that it isn’t a fake, and they can make people do simple tasks, like rub their stomach. They get bored and trade it for a course on “Hyperstellar Archaeology”. They believe it is a fake, until they see their names in the book! They use a code in a Japanese-English Dictionary that holds the answer to Hyperstellar Archaeology, but it makes no sense. They meet the author, Clarence Yojimbo, and purchase The Key from him. They use it with the dictionary to find out where they can get in touch with a parallel plane of existence - Waka-Waka. They succeed, but Waka-Waka is controlled by pirates, and they decide to help the Waka-Wakians rebel. But, Alan and Leonard can’t stay too long, or they’ll get stuck there forever.

This book, Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars, is by Daniel Pinkwater, and is science fiction. The story is told from Leonard’s point of view in first person. The main characters are Leonard Neeble, Alan Mendelsohn, and Samuel Klugarsh. Other important characters are Clarence Yojimbo, Lance Hergeshleimer, Dr. Prince, and Manny, Moe, and Jack. I think the major theme is that you shouldn’t be able to control others or supernatural forces, because Leonard and Alan cause quite a bit of chaos in Waka-Waka, and Clarence Yojimbo mentions that people from Earth shouldn’t be able to do Mind Control (Yojimbo is from Venus).

On a scale of one through five, I would definitely give this book a five. I really enjoyed reading this book, and I have several times. I thought the plot was interesting, and there is a lot of humor in this book. The characters are well defined; I could easily imagine most of them, and they all have funny names. For example, when Leonard first meets Alan, he thinks, “He had a beard! He was wearing a green sweater with three yellow stripes around one arm and a big yellow letter K on the pocket. I noticed he was wearing black-and-white saddle shoes. He also had these weird plaid socks. In his own way he was as outlandish-looking as I was.” Other characters are introduced in this observational way, and most of them wear weird clothes. I like the concept of places like Atlantis not being lost, but a parallel plane of existence. I also like how Yojimbo makes an example of Hoboken, the town they live in, being a “lost civilization”. I like how there wasn’t a central conflict, but a plot with many conflicts. I would recommend this book to anyone, except people who don’t like humor, or must have logical books with organized structure, because Pinkwater’s books are always funny, and very rarely follow the normal structure. Many things in his books don’t make sense at the surface, but when you think about them, like mind control and teleportation, it starts to make sense and you understand. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to everyone.





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