Reviews for Terrific

Booklist Reviews 2005 October #2
K-Gr. 2. By the creator of numerous collections of palindromes and picture books like Milo's Hat Trick (1998), this title encapsulates Agee's natural strengths: deadpan delivery, lean storytelling, and an impeccable design sense. With his slumped shoulders and 1940s hat and overcoat, Eugene is a picture of middle-class discontentment. How about an all-expenses paid trip to Bermuda? "'Terrific,' he [says], I'll probably get a really nasty sunburn." When a shipwreck leaves him marooned with a talking parrot, the peppy, capable bird gradually transforms Eugene's pessimism. Agee's no-frills artwork reflects techniques borrowed from comic strips; neatly penciled frames focus attention and indicate elapsed time, while Eugene's exaggerated body proportions amplify the humor of his bond with the tiny bird. Few kids are clamoring for tales about jaded grown-ups' emotional rebirth, but there is much to command their attention here: Listeners will particularly enjoy the repeated utterances of Eugene's favorite word, especially the exuberant, heartfelt "TERRIFIC!"at book's close.Oversize dimensions and opportunities for chiming in make this a storytime natural. ((Reviewed October 15, 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2006 Spring
In this deadpan story, glass-half-empty Eugene wins a cruise ("Terrific.... I'll probably get a really nasty sunburn), but his ship goes down in a storm. He washes up on a desert island ("Now I'll get eaten by cannibals") where he meets Lenny, a parrot with a broken wing and a can-do attitude. Agee's large-size illustrations command attention and enhance the understated humor. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2005 #6
In this deadpan story, Eugene wins a free cruise to Bermuda, but, being a worst-case-scenario kind of guy, sarcasm is as much enthusiasm as he can muster: "Terrific.... I'll probably get a really nasty sunburn." Sunburn is the least of his worries, however, when his ship goes down in a storm. Still wearing his hat, tie, belted brown overcoat, and irritated expression, Eugene washes up on a desert island. "'Terrific,' he said. 'Now I'll get eaten by cannibals.'" Instead, he meets fellow castaway Lenny, a parrot with a broken wing. Lenny's can-do attitude isn't dampened by Eugene's crankiness; with Lenny's brains and Eugene's brawn ("Terrific.... I'm going to permanently damage my lower back"), they build a seaworthy boat and are rescued by Lenny's former shipmates. Agee's inviting large-size illustrations, with their strong lines and bold composition, command viewers' attention and enhance the humor, while effective page turns heighten the understated drama. Rather than sinking the story, Eugene's gloom-and-doom outlook is well played for laughs. And in the end, Eugene really does feel terrific about something: a friend. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2005 August #1
Plainly channeling Jack Benny, middle-aged Eugene responds glumly to various reversals of fortune-after winning a cruise to Bermuda: "Terrific. I'll probably get a really nasty sunburn"-until a shipwreck ("Terrific. I'll probably get devoured by sharks") strands him on a tiny island ("Terrific. Now I'll get eaten by cannibals"). There he meets a parrot who knows something about both boatbuilding and friendship. Cast as a scowling curmudgeon with thinning hair and conservative taste in dress, Eugene looks the part too-at least until the end, when a reunion with his beaked buddy draws both a smile and a "Terrific!" delivered with a radically different inflection. Fans of James Stevenson's tales of the "Worst Person in the World" will find a kindred sort here and are sure to add the adjective to their vocabularies. (Picture book. 6-8) Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2005 June #3
Eugene Crumb, the balding and paunchy protagonist of this desert-island send-up, views every lucky break with pessimism. When he wins a cruise to Bermuda, he sighs, "Terrific... I'll probably get a really nasty sunburn." His glass continues to be half-empty after he survives a shipwreck and gets marooned ("Terrific... Now I'll get eaten by cannibals"). Fortunately, a green, orange-winged parrot shares the island, and it coaches Eugene to build a boat, ignoring Eugene's gripes about lower back pain and converting his ill-fitting brown raincoat into a sail ("Terrific... This coat cost me thirty-two dollars"). Man and bird become friends, but when they are picked up by oceangoing fishermen, the parrot falls silent. As in Milo's Hat Trick and Z Goes Home, Agee draws in a mannered charcoal-gray line, creating spacious curves and blunt angles, then brushing them in with watercolor. He tightly frames his pleasing compositions in rectangles and circles, and the lines and shapes hang in satisfying balance. With his frown, poor posture and high-water pants, Eugene resembles the Born Loser of the comic strip. But his sarcastic answer to everything may well resonate with readers who are not easily impressed, and an upbeat conclusion that trumpets the power of friendship provides an unironic "Terrific!" at last. Ages 2-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 2005 September

K-Gr 3 -With pithy humor and a knack for comic timing, Agee has created a character who will endear himself to readers despite his curmudgeonly exterior and posturing. Eugene Mudge lives in Dismal, ND, and has a little problem with negativity. When he wins a free trip to Bermuda, his response is "‘Terrific, I'll probably get a really nasty sunburn.'" Nothing seems to go right for him and no matter how horrible the experience-a wrecked cruise ship, a deserted island, a talking parrot, and almost dying of thirst-his response is always a snide, "‘Terrific.'" Eugene's a grumpy old man, but sometimes, grumpy old men can surprise you. Sometimes, they even surprise themselves. The cartoon illustrations feature strong lines and soft colors that contrast wonderfully with the story line. With just a few lines, Eugene's bulbous nose and personality shine through. This is a perfect read-aloud for older students who are developing an ear for sarcasm and younger children who will enjoy this offbeat adventure.-Genevieve Gallagher, Murray Elementary School, Charlottesville, VA

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