The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson
In Quinn Sosna-Spear’s skillful debut novel, The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson, 12-year-old Walter lives with his mother, Hadorah, near a junkyard on the outskirts of Moormouth, a dreary, fog-covered factory town where people pass in the streets without noticing one another and where conformity and obedience are valued above everything else. Worried that Walter’s quirky inventions will eventually lead him to ruin, Hadorah, who serves as the local mortician, does in everything in her power to persuade Walter to abandon his imaginative creations and join her in the family business. Walter’s dream is to be a great inventor, however, and after an angry confrontation with his mother, he sneaks away in the family hearse with his friend Cordelia, a quiet, one-eyed girl with dreams and secrets of her own. Along the way, the two young adventurers pass through an odd, colorful landscape worthy of Dr. Seuss. There’s the tiny blue village of Elverpool, where the locals clothe themselves in brilliantly colored fish scales, wear star fish in their hair, and soar across the countryside in balloons made from butterfly wings. There’s the forgotten mining town of Shrew’s Borough, a remote cliff-side community inhabited by hairy, foul-tempered giants. There’s the never-ending float parade, powered by tiny beings with long, noodley limbs, that detain the young travelers in the middle of the desert. Finally, there’s the tacky, futuristic, glass-and-plaster splendor of Flaster Island, where Walter and Cordelia meet the world-famous inventor, Horace Fasterborn, the object of their quest. A story of profound loss, abandoned dreams, and new beginnings, Sosna-Spear’s novel will provide young readers, particularly those who have experienced loss and grief themselves, with a wise and compassionate depiction of what it’s like to lose someone you love and what it takes carry on.
David Shirley ©2019 Parents’ Choice
David Shirley’s recent nonfiction titles include A History of Brooklyn Bridge Park and Fix It Leroy! His YA biographies, Every Day I Sing the Blues: The Story of B. B. King and Satchel Paige: Baseball Legend were honored as the New York Public Library’s Best Books for Teens.