What We Found in the Sofa and How It Saved the World lives up to the promise of its title. The heroes, River, Freak, and Fiona find an odd grouping of items–including a rare zucchini crayon and a strange double-headed coin–under the cushions in an old sofa. Using these, they help save the world. It’s a goofy, unexpected story full of friendship, silliness, and world-saving.
What makes this book work–aside from the innate goofiness–is the characters. The three protagonists are good friends, working out how to stay friends in the crazy world of middle school, trying to figure out who they are, and dealing with real-world heartbreak in the middle of otherworldly events. Freak’s father is an alcoholic; River’s parents are dead and he lives with an aunt who, though loving, is often away from home. Fiona’s life is fairly normal, though she struggles with the usual middle-school pressures. All three live on the edge of a wasteland created by a permanently burning underground fire. While saving the world, they struggle with balancing their own problems and trying to help one another without always knowing how.
At the same time, the humor and off-the-wall events are a large part of the book’s charm. Who can resist an opinionated sofa or a domino giving advice? Add in a hot air balloon shaped like a toilet, a villain who cannot resist completing his collection, mind-control-by-cell phone, and other odds and ends, and the book is a magnificent example of the outrageous tale.
There is heroism, villainy, and goofiness galore in this highly readable adventure. Recommended for middle school readers on up, it is likely to appeal to the same people who enjoy Adam Rex’s Cold Cereal series.
Edit: What We Found in the Sofa and How it Saved the World is now available in paperback as well as hardcover and ebook.