Sensel, Joni. 2007. Reality Leak. With illustrations by Christian Slade.
Bryan Zilcher always thought he was quite an ordinary boy living in an ordinary town, South Wiggot, until one day he saw something quite unordinary happen right in front of his LemonMoo stand. "People did not usually travel down Route 64 stuffed inside wooden crates. Yet here was a crate, a big one, squatting atop the road's dotted line, and somebody odd was about to climb out" (1). Bryan is the only one to witness the arrival of Mr. Keen, the man who arrived in a crate bearing the label: WARNING DO NOT LICK. Yes, Bryan knows that something strange is going on...if only he could figure out what or who this stranger is. "Bryan heard the snick of some invisible latch. Without even a creak, the lid swung open wide. Bryan had nearly jumped out of his sandals. Now, from a few yards away, he watched first an arm and then a long, spindly leg crook over the crate's open edge. Slick as scissors, a man clambered out. His white suit and shoes made Bryan think of a preacher or perhaps Colonel Sanders, the fried chicken king. The shiny, gold object he had in his hand was no drumstick, though. It could have been a small flashlight, except one end tapered to a sharp, curly point like the tail of a mechanical pig. The device reminded Bryan of something unpleasant a dentist might use. He shivered despite the July heat. The tall man looked directly at him. For an instant, Bryan could have sworn that tiny green spirals twirled in the man's eyeballs. Then those eyes blinked and the spirals vanished. The stranger's eyes were simply an odd green." (2-4) Mr. Keen is a mystery or riddle waiting to be solved. Luckily, Bryan is an eleven year old boy who loves to do just that. Keeping his own secret files--with his own unique filing system--Bryan starts his new summer project: figure out the mysterious new stranger, Mr. Keen, and find out the secret behind the new business, ACME. Is this new stranger friend or foe? Bryan knows the man is keeping secrets...he just doesn't know how dangerous those secrets are.
Unique characters, unique plot. Reality Leak is full of one imaginative adventure after another. It is an enjoyable read.