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Reviewed by:
  • The Mechanical Mind of John Coggin by Elinor Teele
  • April Spisak
Teele, Elinor The Mechanical Mind of John Coggin; illus. by Ben Whitehouse. Walden Pond/HarperCollins,
2016 [352p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-234510-3 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-234511-0 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 3-5

John and Page have suffered with their dreadful aunt for years, with John learning to make caskets so that he can carry on the family business, and Page mostly being ignored. Finally, faced with a choice to sign a contract and commit his whole life to caskets or flee, John digs deep and decides that uncertainty is better than known awfulness, and the two kids run away. What follows is a rollicking delight, though it doesn’t always go well for the sibs—they join a circus, they make inventions, they find a baker who loves them, they are chased by their formidable aunt, and they ultimately find a much better life than they left behind. John’s sharp brain and fierce love for his sister make him a memorable protagonist, and readers will be rooting for him even when he messes up multiple times. Surrounding him are an excellent mix of bumblers, villains, tricksters, and pure-as-gold good people who get enough attention to make them feel real on the page but don’t take away from the core duo of Page and John. Lovers of pastiche will find this a worthy romp from start to finish. Reviewed from an unillustrated galley. [End Page 489]