Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2010. 978-0-547-22324-7
Synopsis: Big Audrey is a cat-whiskered girl from another dimension that works in a flying saucer bookshop in Poughkeepsie, New York. She makes friends with a man named Professor Tag, a teacher at Vassar who goes crazy once a year. While visiting him in the loony bin, she meets Molly, a telepath, and the two become friends. While on a walk, the three happen across a stone barn whose proprietor makes the best apple fritters in the universe for the aliens that land their flying saucers behind the barn. Curious, Big Audrey and Molly decide to investigate the UFOs and their connection to another cat-whiskered girl who bears a strong resemblance to Audrey.
Why I picked it up: The title caught my eye while I was browsing through lists of science fiction books for middle schoolers.
Why I finished it: Pinkwater is a very clever and humorous writer. The reader is quickly brought up to speed on Audrey’s background and why she is in Poughkeepsie in a matter of paragraphs and then plunged into the story. Audrey herself is a charming narrator, both matter of fact and sarcastic when it comes to describing the world, the people around her, and her mixed emotions about the existence of another cat-whiskered girl like herself. Situations, characters, and settings dance on the border or ridiculousness and absurdity, but merely the fact that Pinkwater is dealing with alternate universes makes it fantastic, unusual, and believable. The mystery part of the plot is equally engaging and though the book is rather thick, the chapters are short and move quickly. The ending is somewhat of a cliffhanger, though since this book is the sequel to two others, I have a feeling there will be more adventures to be had in the mysterious Poughkeepsie.
Other related materials: The Yggyssey: How Iggy Wondered What Happened to All the Ghosts, Found Out Where They Went, and Went There by David Pinkwater; The Neddiad: How Neddie Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization by David Pinkwater; Lizard Music by David Pinkwater; The Hoboken Chicken Emergency by David Pinkwater; Irving & Muktuk: Two Bad Bears by David Pinkwater; Once Upon a Blue Moose by David Pinkwater; The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente; Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier; The Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch; The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger; The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman