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Melonhead    by Katy Kelly & Gillian Johnson order for
by Katy Kelly
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Though mom calls him by his given name of Adam Melon, he prefers the nickname Melonhead, invented by his friend Lucy Rose because of his round-shaped head. All his ten years of life, Adam (who lives on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.) has been occupied with ideas, some that work and some that don't.

When teacher Mr. S announces the school's science fair, Adam and Sam team up to meet the theme of the competition: Reinventions: Recycle the Old into the New. The first place winner will proceed to the Regionals in Chantilly, VA, followed by the Nationals in Philadelphia, PA. But, before any of that begins, Adam, who has many aversions, gets into mishaps.

The biggest attention-getter is when Adam demonstrates how to climb a tree. All's well until his 'size-four foot gets caught in a size-three hole'. This crisis brings out the fire and police departments, an ambulance, neighbors, TV media, and Mom - who was dressed-up and ready to attend a government occasion with Dad (a Congressman's aide). The media roll the film on the nightly news, captioned Tragedy Averted, and the next day at school Sam, asks 'How was it being saved by the Jaws of Life?'

Back to the competition – Sam and Adam keep a daily journal, as suggested by Mr. S, along with a growing collection of: pieces of plastic pipes, mirrors from Mom's makeup kit, nails, glass, bike pedals, Mylar balloons, cup holders, wood, paint, helium gas, and glue - this does not mean that their invention will make use of those pieces as they go through idea after idea and get into mischief after mischief.

Not all of Melonhead's ventures are on the brink of disaster – for example, Adam is called to the principal's office and told he won Homework of the Week, and that it will be posted on the bulletin board. Mom and Dad are really proud, but then Mom begins to read the posting and the Homework title is My Personal Experience with Head Lice!

Katy Kelly’s first-book in a planned series offers a deliriously delectable narration by star Adam Melon. There's spiffy storytelling with lots of zing as Adam jumps from one subject to another. Adam admits, 'I am an inventor, an adventurer, and trouble magnet. The first two are on purpose.' Katy Kelly says that unlike Adam 'she does not enjoy rodents, taking shortcuts across her neighbor's roof, or exploding things' but like Adam she loves adventures, has a sweet tooth, and has a hilarious friend named Lucy Rose.

Illustrator Gillian Johnson lived ten years in Tasmania, Australia, 'a place far from Capitol Hill, where all the snakes are extremely poisonous.' Johnson keeps with the story's tempo using fine-point ink outlines, engaging facial expressions, and enhancements of grey.

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