“Halfway up the steep slope of Mount Tibidabo was a very small village where very strange things happened, but only on Wednesdays.”
The town of Tibidabo is plagued by annoying events every Wednesday, from midnight to midnight. Not surprisingly, the entire population spends the entirety of every Wednesday indoors for safety reasons, though occasionally mishaps slip in anyway: furniture shifts, rugs ruck up and once Polly Simmons found her tea had been replaced by perfume. All doors are locked. All windows boarded up. No one peeps outside for fear of attracting the attention of the creatures causing all this mayhem, which the townsfolk call, not surprisingly, “wednesdays”.
Except Max V. Bernard. He’s a tween boy, who finds being cooped up every Wednesday a trial–his parents play canasta (too boring) and drink coffee (too bitter) all day, while his little brother is as yet only a baby too young to be any fun–he’s still in the spit-up stage–and the cat is too old and grumpy to be any fun either. Things come to a head on Max’s birthday, which happens to fall on a Wednesday that year; he pries up the loose board over an attic window to peek out, which lets in just enough wednesdayish mischief to short circuit the television just as his father was about to turn on the table tennis finals and flatten Max’s birthday cake just as she opened the oven to check on its progress, and put the baby’s digestive system in reverse, so to speak. (No mention of what happened to the cat but it was unpleasant, I’m sure.)
Thoroughly exasperated, Max’s parents send him OUTside to play. Unfortunately, in the process, Max catches a bad case of the “wednesdays” as a result of encountering the creatures after which the illness was named. It wasn’t entirely a bad day to begin with as he had a nice dip in the otherwise unoccupied municipal pool, a swim only slightly marred by getting gum in his hair, blue dye all over his body and losing his sneakers. Not even an encounter with Mr. Grimsrud, the town curmudgeon, and Mr. Grimsrud’s phenomenally ugly little dog, called Thursday as he’s always after wednesdays, could ruin the excursion outside on the forbidden Wednesday.
Until he meets the wednesdays.
No mere figure of speech, the wednesdays are very real: vaguely boylike creatures–arms too long, bodies too rotund and squashed, and silvery eyes…and a tricksy sense of humor that leaves mere humans with stubbed toes, goose eggs on their heads and minor contusions in uncomfortable but ultimately harmless places. Except Max. He will turn into one of them after a “week of Wednesdays” and he has to figure out how to halt the process and revert to normal boyhood. Fortunately, he has the help of Mr. Grimsrud and Thursday, Noah and Gemma and a fortuitous last-minute understanding of clockworks. I’ll stop there, except to say that the book has a mostly happy ending, for the humans at any rate.
On the whole, this is a very satisfactory book to read, particularly for kids but also to some extent for parents (and for more than a few adults who just happen to like fantasy novels). It’s a “middle grades” book–the reading and interest levels are at fourth to eighth grade, depending on kids’ skills and interests, and fun for kids who like stories about vanquishing monsters in the closet. A chapter book for kids who liked There’s a Monster in my Closet. (It might help to know that not only is Mount Tibidabo quite real–the city of Barcelona is at the base and a carnival at the top–but this is where the author was living at the time she came up with the basic plot of the book.)