Book: Borgel

Author: Daniel Manus Pinkwater

Publisher: ‎ Atheneum, 1990

ISBN-13: 978-0027746716

ISBN-10: 0027746712

Language level:  3

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 10 – 12 and up

Rating: *** 3 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Category: Science fiction

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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     Pinkwater, Daniel Manus.  Borgel (Published in 1990 by Macmillan Publishing Company, a division of Macmillan Inc., 866 Third Ave., New York City, NY  10022).  Melvin Spellbound lives in an apartment with his parents, older brother Milo and sister Martha, and dog Fafner.  When Melvin was small, a man named Borgel McTavish, who claimed to come from the “Old Country,” to be a distant relative and to be 111 years old, had to leave “the old apartment” in “the old building” in “the old neighborhood” because it was being demolished, so he moved in with Melvin’s family.  One night, Borgel takes Melvin and Fafner for a ride in his 1937 Dorbzeldge sedan for a trip through time-space-and-the-other and pick up a little man named Freddie who is on a quest for the “Great Popsicle.” Where are they going?  Do they find the “Great Popsicle”?  Will they ever get home?

    As to language, besides some childish slang (i.e., “pee”) and common euphemisms (e.g., darned, gee, doggone), the name of God is used as an exclamation a couple of times, and the “d” word is found once.  The travelers literally go to “Hell,” but, of course, it’s nothing like what the Bible describes.   And there is some talk that the Great Popsicle is God because “Everything is God.”  The theme seems to be “cosmic consciousness” where peace and love save the day, and one reviewer said that it reads more like a 1960s underground comic than a 1990 novel for middle readers.  But if kids like a zany story with hilariously absurd humor, they’ll find it here.  Author Daniel Pinkwater’s book Uncle Melvin seems to be a sequel.  Also, I have read and reviewed his The Hoboken Chicken Emergency, which I said tends to be somewhat on the silly side and gave it a three-star rating too.

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