Attack of the Stuff: The Life and Times of Bill Waddler

Papercutz. (Attack of the Stuff: Bk. 1). May 2020. 112p. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781545804988; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781545804995.
Gr 3-5–Existence is bleak for Bill Waddler, a lonely anthropomorphic duck who can communicate with objects. His lamp, his armchair, and his salt and pepper shakers heckle him for being a friendless loser; his blanket has a later bedtime than he does, which means a cold, blanket-less night; and forget about using the toilet—“Latoyat Toiletstein,” as it wants to be called, has aspirations of greatness, like becoming a movie star, or maybe a kitchen sink. Overwhelmed, Bill runs away to the forest. But when the internet unexpectedly shuts down, Bill’s curse turns out to be a blessing, as only he can communicate with the internet and find out how to get it (or, rather, her) running again. That is, if he is willing to leave his new life as king of the snakes. The best-selling author of “Dear Dumb Diary” and “Franny K. Stein” has penned an inventive, absurdist, fast-paced story. Benton’s dry humor is a winning mix of the surreal (Bill’s diva-like toilet; the internet requesting a big pink hat that says “Foxy Lady”) and the mundane (the frustration of a public-facing job). The simple, bright line drawings are caricature-like; Bill is depicted as a human-like figure with a protruding mouth. Despite the laughs, a note of pathos creeps in as Bill despairs of his solitary life and eventually manages to forge connections.
VERDICT This bizarre yet sweet tale is recommended for most collections, especially where Benton is popular.

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