Skip to main content Reviews Rube Goldberg's Simple Normal Definitely Different Day Off

By Jennifer George. Illus. by Ed Steckley

Apr. 2022. 40p. Abrams, $18.99 (9781419748301). Gr. 1–3

This wacky picture book imagines how a young Rube Goldberg might get out of going to school. An opening scene with maze like roads traces the route to Rube’s house, where an accompanying paragraph explains how this kid inventor has the perfect plan to kick-start a day of adventure. From here, the book progresses through 15 tasks, from “a surefire way to fake being sick” to “a no-nonsense way to avoid nosy neighbors,” with convoluted contraptions. Colorful, amusing, and detailed double-page spreads resemble the real Rube Goldberg’s cartoons. For instance, to create a decoy sleeping Rube, the boy pulls a string to release a volleyball, which rolls down a ramp and sets in motion an intricate series of reactions to create the impression that he’s snoring in a pillow fort when he’s actually sneaking outside. Each moving part is given an alphabetical label, with a descriptive key on the side. Endpapers with sight gags, a progression of animals, and more add to the merriment, while a concluding look at simple machines keeps the antics educational. -- March 15, 2022