The Anybodiesby N.E. Bode, with illustrations by Peter Ferguson
HarperCollins, 288 pp., $15.99
The premise of N.E. Bode's (aka poet and novelist Julianna Baggott) The Anybodies is familiar: A girl named Fern has unusual powers and claims to see things her "tragically dull parents" implore her to keep hidden. In Fern's world, birds turn into dogs and nuns turn into lampposts. She finds all this intriguing, and her parent's denial of her skills is disappointing. So, when a man called the Bone claims to be her real father, she happily sets off with him to discover her true heritage. Yes, the Bone. A lackluster explanation is given for this unfortunate nickname, and getting to that explanation is fairly inventive fairies fall out of books at Fern's touch, and, as a potential Anybody, her ability to enter and experience illustrations is a kick. These inventions aside, The Anybodies is like a ride on a rickety roller coaster: short, mildly fun, and quickly forgotten. But there is a big plus side: Written for ages 10-13, the prose is fast-paced, and the situations suitably kooky. Better yet, children can read it to themselves, and anything that encourages reading is a good thing.