Who needs GPS when you can have The Slippery Map? In the latest children's book by N. E. Bode, an orphan, Oyster R. Motel (so named because he was found wrapped in a Royal Motel towel and said to have a heart like a pearl), is adopted by nuns.
While visiting a dentist, Oyster is sucked into a mysterious temporary disappearance and sent into an imaginary world created by his parents. He must then stop Darkmouth, the villain, from forcing the Perths, a lovable, playful species, to work in his sugar factory, which looms over the made-up world. From there Oyster faces an array of frightful creatures intent on keeping him from saving the Perths.
Bode, which is the pen name of Julianna Baggott, wrote the book in a quirky but fun style. Quirky, I say, because she uses the narrator to reminisce about humorous events in her own personal life. She compares Oyster's education with her own schooling at the "Academy for the Dull and the Gift-less," where both felt restricted and bored. She mentions her insane college professor and how he said she would never be an author, and that her writing was "despicable.''
After more than eight successful books for children and adults, Bode deserves the last laugh.
The Slippery Map is filled with puns, jokes, double entendres and silliness. Whether it was the strange creatures who intrigued me or the selfish behavior of "The Beast" (one of the nun's dogs), I was charmed by their personalities. The lovable Perths were unique and had a strange but fun way of doing things. When they wanted to hide the slippery map, they decided to stick it in a bucket in plain sight.
I adore the way Bode describes each location. She paints her scenes with delicate vocabulary strokes. But just like Oyster's mind, she lets the reader imagine it the way it seemed best. I was able to add my personal touches to the Wonka-like fig shop and the extraordinary skeletal flowers at Darkmouth's lair.
While I enjoyed The Slippery Map, I found it ended a tad too soon. I, along with some of my dedicated Bode reader friends, wished she had talked more about her personal life as in the Bodies series.
The Slippery Map is an entertaining book and I would recommend it to those who believe in or want to believe in Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny, or anyone who ever had an imaginary friend.