Young readers: ‘Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey’ by Mini Grey

July 31, 2012

TRACTION MAN AND
THE BEACH ODYSSEY

By Mini Grey

Knopf. $16.99. Ages 5-8

If this summer’s trip to the beach is already history, you have only to crack open Traction Man’s latest adventure to remember the feel of salt in your hair and sand in your teeth. “Brought to you by Beach-Time Brenda,” this sendup of all things pop invests toys and gadgets with every ounce of personality that any kid could possibly want. “Everyone is going on holiday,” Mini Grey writes. “Traction Man and his loyal pet, Scrubbing Brush, are doing an equipment check before they go.” But they’re still not prepared for the adventure ahead. When Traction Man accidentally drifts out to sea, he’s rescued and unceremoniously dumped into a “Beach-Time Brenda™ Bucket.” Let the humiliations begin! As his owner searches the length of the beach, Traction Man is stuck “in the Dollies’ Castle, wearing . . . a shell hat, a light dusting of sand and a floral sarong.” Even his loyal sidekick has been fancied-up with a garland. “Somehow, Scrubbing Brush, we must escape.” Eventually, Traction Man and the Dollies find common cause in rebuilding the collapsed sand castle, and at story’s end they sail off to sea on a “pinkly paisley inflatable dinghy.” Busy pictures stuffed with bogus advertisements, silly labels and sly asides add giggles to the gadgetry.

— Kristi Elle Jemtegaard

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