Prince of Underwhere
By Bruce Hale
Illustrated by Shane Hillman
HarperCollins
ISBN: 9780060851248
$15.99
Grades 3-6
In Stores

Books that are tailor made for reluctant readers can sometimes be tricky to give a thoughtful review. The reason? Well, I’m not a reluctant reader. Show me a book and you don’t have to do much convincing. Books like “Captain Underpants” and the “Time Warp Trio” series, while providing an unquestionable benefit to kids who would not otherwise pick up a book, don’t leave me with much to say. I support these books. I suggest them to kids who aren’t that into reading. They’re fun and entertaining. That’s what they’re for. “Prince of Underwhere” falls into this category. A half illustrated, half text-ustrated breeze of a book that is just asking, nay, begging to be picked up and read.

Zeke, our protagonist, lets it be known right from the get-go that the zaniness is comin’ correct:

If we hadn’t run from the spies, I might never have discovered Underwhere. (The place, not the tighty-whities. I already know about those.) Then I would never have had to walk like a zombie, lead the miget revolution, and cut a mighty cheese in a castle.

Zeke, his twin sister Stephanie, and his friend Hector are starting to think something is up. The clocks are going haywire and the meows from Hector’s cat, Fitz, are starting to sound a lot more like communicating. While Zeke and Stephs parents are out of town, the three friends follow Fitz into a construction site, fall into a black hole, and end up in the land of Underwhere. Here’s where the illustrations come in. Whenever the crew goes through the warp zone, the book switches into comic mode. The transition is pretty natural.

In Underwhere, it doesn’t take long for the trio to meet up with The Undies and for Zeke to be declared their Prince. The problem with being the savior is that you actually are expected to do some saving. Skivvytown needs to be liberated from a host of monsters, but Zeke’s got other problems to deal with in the real world. Problems like older sister Caitlyn, who’s supposed to be their babysitter, and the spies that keep popping up to ask more questions about Underwhere. And I won’t even begin to get into the role billionare rapper Beefy D plays in the story. Zeke, Steph, and Hector have their hands full.

I mentioned that this book was begging to be picked up. Exhibit A? It advertises its contents right on the cover. T. Rexes! Spies! Zombies! This makes sense, given that cover goes a long way in helping to determine which book kids will pick off the shelf (or if they pick one up at all). The cover even mentions the unconventional format (“Half Comic, Half Novel, Totally Hilarius”). “The Prince of Underwhere” will appeal to the youngster who needs a bit of a nudge.

To read an interview with author Bruce Hale at the children’s lit blog Three Silly Chicks, click here.

Click here to peruse the Bruce Hale interview at Cynsations.

Click here to check out illustrator Shane Hillman’s website.

Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.