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The Problim Children

Review

The Problim Children

Written by Natalie Lloyd and Illustrated by Julia Sarda

What happens when you write a story that includes circus spiders, wattabats, secret rooms and other secrets, the color purple and a purple-tailed robotic squirrel, riddles, a witch, magic, a ton of puns, the number seven, an organization called the Society for the Protection of Unwanted Children, a character named Desdemona O'Pinion and another organization called the Mansion Owners Observation Society (MOOS)? You get a whole lot of silliness, a great helping of creativity and an overload of fun. As one reviewer put it, the story includes "a dash of Lemony Snicket, a dollop of the Addams Family, and a hearty dose of adventure." I couldn't agree more, but I would also add a sprinkle of Miss Peregrine to the mix.

The seven Problim Children --- Mona, Toot, Wendell, Thea, Frida, Sal and Sundae --- are forced to leave their home in the Swampy Woods when it suddenly goes KABOOM and is blown to bits. The children are home alone because their parents are on a special mission for the Queen of Andorra. It's not unusual for these children to be left by themselves, and as Sundae says, they "take care of each other."

"A whole lot of silliness, a great helping of creativity and an overload of fun....Based on this first installment, I very much look forward to the next book and hope it is every bit as good as this one."

Each child was born on a different day of the week. Wendell and Thea are twins, but Wendell was born late on a Wednesday night; seven minutes later, Thea was born early on Thursday morning. Each child has a peculiar habit or talent, depending on how you look at them. Mona can climb trees like a monkey. Wendell is a champion baker. Thea can pick any lock that exists. Sal is an amazing gardener. And Sundae sees the best in everyone. Frida communicates through rhyme, and turns everything she says into verse. Toot has a unique way of communicating also, as he doesn't communicate verbally. Toot communicates by "tooting"; you know, by farting. He lets the family --- and anyone around him --- know exactly what he's thinking by transmitting through a range of specialized farts. He has so many of them, that they have been numbered. His siblings know what's going on just by smelling a particular fart. For instance, Fart #17 is described like this: "The Pompous Fart: Means: I told you so. Smells like a clogged garbage disposal, plus the faintest trace of lemon.”

When their house explodes, which most families would consider a major problem, the Problim children simply pack up what little they can salvage and head to Lost Cove, where they set up housekeeping in their Grandfather Problim's old house --- Number Seven, of course. The problem is that although they have a deed to the property, they don't have any birth certificates or paperwork of any kind to prove they are Grandpa's descendants and therefore entitled to occupy the house (all their papers were destroyed in the explosion). And, they are not exactly welcomed by their new neighbors. Will they be allowed to stay or will they be thrown out before their parents come home?

Several black and white drawings, highlighting aspects of the text, are scattered throughout the book. The illustrations not only break up the text a bit, but they add a visual dimension to the zaniness.

This is the first book in a trilogy. Based on this first installment, I very much look forward to the next book and hope it is every bit as good as this one.

Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin on February 26, 2018

The Problim Children
Written by Natalie Lloyd and Illustrated by Julia Sarda