Why is Measle Stubbs so afraid of his guardian, Basil Tramplebone? Is it his slithering, hissing way? Might it be those pointed, yellow teeth? Probably most ten-year-old boys would not be happy living in the shadow of the strange and frightening Basil. But Measle has no choice, as he is an orphan and must now live miserably in his guardian's dark, cold house. The one nice thing is the room at the top of the house that contains a most marvelous train set. Sometimes, when Basil is working on the train, he allows Measle to watch. But despite these moments of happiness, Measle is terribly nervous about something that lurks overhead and seems to be watching his every move.
Measle's real adventure begins when he dares to play with Basil's train and is caught. The mad wizard, or "Wrathmonk," quickly shrinks Measle to the size of one of the little village people. It doesn't take long for the clever Measle to figure out that Basil has been doing some really evil spells and that many of the "villagers" are real people turned into plastic. He accidentally discovers that, by feeding them carrot bits, they can become real again. Becoming real helps them all realize that perhaps together they can escape from Basil's horrible spell. However, in order to do this, they must come up with intelligent plans and face some formidable adventures. By far the most fun comes when they reverse one of Wrathmonk's spells and turn him into a giant cockroach!
This is a fun little book with just the right amount of scary. Like Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, it will be an especially popular selection for grades 4 through 6. There is a sequel on the way, so the adventures of Measle and his friends are just beginning.
--- Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts