In this debut middle-grade novel, a lonely boy finds friendship and learns about the magic of human connection.
Defined by the large mole on his lip, 10-year-old Gregory has grown distant from his family. He is friendless and withdrawn. Then one night a strange little creature emerges from Gregory’s mole. It is riding a (quite lovable) cockroach and can change size. This is the Grimbockle. The Grimbockle—one of many Bockles, who, like Palmer Cox’s Brownies, live at the peripheries of human awareness—tends to the exoodles that bind people together. Exoodles are long, transparent, noodle-like threads and are usually invisible. Once Gregory has his eyeballs painted with Carrot Juicy, though, he can see them. He joins the Grimbockle and the roach, traveling the exoodles as if on a high-speed roller coaster. Exoodles wither and die when people don’t look after their relationships. The Grimbockle is trying to repair a particularly sickly exoodle that links a boy to his mother. Can Gregory help—and can he mend the exoodles in his own life? Schubert follows delightedly in the footsteps of Roald Dahl, opening her unfortunate young protagonist’s eyes to a previously unseen world both weird and wondrous (yet for all its outlandish magic, oddly logical). The scenario is one of riotous imagination while the Grimbockle himself—brought sweetly to life in black-and-white illustrations by Kraft—is a sprightly and good-natured little person, full of the type of singsong infelicities found in Dahl’s beloved nonhuman characters: “Is you ever seeing glimpses of squiggles in the corners of your twinklers but then they is disappearing in a snippety blink?” “ ‘Exoodles!’ shouted the Grimbockle in triumph. ‘Sometimes, hoo-mans is getting so twisty and wound up in extra exoodles that they is feeling gloomy blue and heavy all day long.’ ” The story is perhaps too much of a parable to fully match Dahl’s template; the adventure is safer and the threats less dark. Nonetheless, readers should fall willingly and with thrilled abandon into the fizzy, fanciful world of Gregory and his Grimbockle friend.
A beautifully realized daydream; a fun yet thoughtful exploration of the complexities and possibilities hidden beneath surface appearances.
Imagine Roald Dahl's language and Mary Norton's storytelling and you might catch a glimpse at what Schubert has created with Gregory and the Grimbockle. This completely original and highly imaginative tale weaves together fantastical themes that children will be drawn to immediately with an underlying message that will make them consider their own relationships. I dreaded having to put this book down to get back to work and found myself looking for more chances throughout the day to find out what would happen next or talk to my coworkers about what I had just read! Your children will devour this book. I highly recommend the soundtrack for intensified reading pleasure as well. I think it is safe to say that we will see many great works from Schubert in the future and I can't wait to go on more adventures. 5/5 stars!
The novel, Gregory and the Grimbockle, arrived quietly in my library this week, but the huge splash it has already made with my students and myself is impressive. We simply couldn’t get enough. With that said, I am so thrilled this little gem has made its way into my collection of supreme children’s literature. It will set on my library shelf in honor amongst the other greats. Well, I take that back, because everyone is asking to take it off the shelves and take it home with them. I believe I am going to need a lot more copies.
The story begins with 11-year-old boy named Gregory. Gregory is one of those children who seem to fall in the cracks, doesn’t have any friends, family doesn’t pay much attention to him unless to provoke him, a true loner, one without hope, merely living a day to day existence. That is until a Grimbockle mysteriously arrives in the middle of the night, entering Gregory’s world from all places, a cracked mole just underneath Gregory’s nose. Yes, a cracked mole.
Don’t worry, the brilliance of Melanie Schubert’s writing quickly pulls you in so fast that you don’t even wonder if this new and exciting world she has created is real or not, you just want to hop on to the story and ride the waves, or the exoodles, as the Grimbockle calls them.
What are exoodles, you may ask? The things that connect us to each other, the things the Grimbockle and the Bockles take care of for us, the things that make us human, why we care for each other, and love each other.
If you would like a book that creates an extraordinary world while at the same time convinces you that this could easily be real, well, this is the perfect one to read with your children or to your students. This is a must buy. My students can’t get enough and were so sad when it came to an end. They are already asking me to purchase her next writing masterpiece.
If all of this wasn’t enough, the illustrations woven throughout this novel are extraordinary. I love when novels include that perfect element of just enough drawings throughout the book to pull the reader in, opening up another world for them without overwhelming the reader’s imagination. Abigail Kraft did an amazing job with this feat. Believe me, this is one of those books to read under the covers, opening up a whole new world for its readers.
One thing that I, as an elementary librarian loved, was the open discussions this book creates. The exoodles are a perfect example of how we are all connected, which led further into the many deep “connection” discussions we had. Hats off to Schubert for this.
Kudos to this new author! I am definitely looking for more books from her wonderful imagination. If Roald Dahl was still here, he would instantly become a huge fan of Schubert as well. Again, can’t wait for more!