School Library Journal

School Library Journal: Uncle Frank’s Pit

Eccentric Uncle Frank comes to visit and literally makes himself at home. He begins to dig a pit in his relatives’ middle-class urban back yard, searching first for dinosaur bones, then for oil, and eventually for treasure. Oblivious to his family’s disbelief (excluding the boy who narrates the story), and later intense media coverage, he ends up unearthing a huge ancient statue. Uncle Frank has the manic good cheer of an updated Monsieur Racine (Tom Ungerer’s The Beast of Monsieur Racine, Farrar, 1971) but is revealed in contemporary, vivid, and thoroughly wacky full-color art. Surprises enliven the book an Uncle Frank moves furniture and amenities into the pit and has a hot tub installed. Emphatic characters are notable for their angular hairstyles, and the spot art is irresistible apropos. Original and endearing, the text and illustrations support one another seamlessly. Best of all, the offbeat protagonist proves himself right against all logical odds. Children will regret his departure and hope he’ll be back soon.