Friday, October 18, 2013

The Fantastic Family Whipple (2013)

The Fantastic Family Whipple. Matthew Ward. 2013. Penguin. 400 pages. [Source: Review Copy]
All the members of the Whipple family had managed to be born in the same month on the same day: March the first. All, of course, but one. Arthur Whipple had been so eager to join his amazing family that he decided to make a surprise arrival into the world at eleven thirty-four P.M. on February the twenty-ninth, just twenty-six minutes ahead of schedule. But to Arthur's astonishment, his family was not as delighted by the surprise as he had hoped. When the doctor placed Arthur in his mother's arms, she smiled lovingly down at him--but he could sense a hint of sadness in her eyes. And when the nurse came and carried him out for his first bath, he turned back to catch a glimpse of his mother quietly crying as the door shut behind him.
The Fantastic Family Whipple is strange, odd, quirky, and perhaps for the right reader perfectly delightful from cover to cover. It's certainly over-the-top and beyond-belief. It has a huge cast of characters. The Whipple family is a large one. Every single person in the family is a grand success. All except for our narrator, Arthur. He is the failure, the shame, of the family. For he alone is the one who has yet to break any world record. The other members of the family, his older siblings and younger siblings, his parents, well, they break records practically every day. In fact, in a single year, they probably break a thousand records. A chronicler even lives with them for convenience. And that's not all. (For example, there's also an animal trainer (the world's hairiest man) and an elephant!)

The book focuses on a time when all is not well in the Whipple house. For a series of accidents has left them all wondering if there is a curse, a family curse, working against them. Some members of the family are more superstitious than others. And it doesn't help that a new family has moved next door. A record-breaking family that rivals their own in many ways; a super-competitive family. A family that also has one outsider in it. (These two become friendly!)

If you enjoy mystery, bizarre humor, and lots of action, then The Fantastic Family Whipple is for you.  

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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