Reviews for Rex Zero, King of Nothing


Booklist Reviews 2008 March #2
*Starred Review* Wynne-Jones continues the saga of imaginative sixth-grader Rex Norton-Norton (aka Rex Zero), first introduced in Rex Zero and the End of the World (2007). This time Rex is preoccupied with a new set of mysteries: a vindictive substitute teacher; a missing address book that leads to a beautiful woman with a black eye; and Mr. Norton-Norton's secretive behavior, which makes Rex fear he may have a brother somewhere in Germany. Set in Ottawa in 1962, the story offers well-crafted, eccentric characters, laugh-out-loud humor, and a generous dose of 1960s culture. Rex is naive yet somehow worldly in his understanding of adults, and he is perfectly believable as he approaches the brink of adulthood, then happily slips back into his childhood comfort zone. Serious themes abound--especially the post-World War II terrors that Rex's father suffers--but Wynne-Jones tempers them with hilarious family and classroom scenes. Rex's fans and preteens contemplating that long bridge to adulthood will be charmed. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2008 #2
The titular disaster having been avoided in Rex Zero and the End of the World (rev. 3/07), one would think that things would calm down for eleven-year-old Rex Norton-Norton, but no: mysteries abound. Who is the woman who addresses his father as "Liebchen" in a letter, and why does his father hide it? Why is the "Nate" he finds in a mislaid address book really a Natasha, and why is her husband spying on her? And what's with those pictures of women in black underwear in his friend's magazines? Rex's ingenuous present-tense narration puts readers at the center of these puzzles as he struggles mightily to solve -- or resolve -- them. It also gives them a chance to get to know the quirky Norton-Nortons a little better. Rex's mercurial father is both terrifying and strangely vulnerable; his mother is more complex than her role as Mum has led Rex to believe; his eldest sister Cassiopeia, at twenty, is, Rex is startled to realize, practically a grownup. As in his previous outing, Wynne-Jones brilliantly plays Rex's comfortable childhood world against the adult one Rex is just beginning to discern; the elegantly simple child-logic he applies to the latter yields both catastrophic and heroic results. Rex's progress into adolescence may not be smooth, but it is well worth the ride. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2008 March #2
A carefree childhood in 1962 Ottawa has more depth than first appearances indicate. Rex Norton-Norton (known as Rex Zero to his friends) has plenty of worries. He's in major trouble for skipping out on Armistice Day ceremonies to play football with his friends. His teacher Miss Garr is totally nuts. His sister Annie Oakley is convinced that their dad fathered a half-German kid during the war. But all of that fades when Rex finds a missing address book which leads him to adventure in the form of a beautiful woman in grave peril. Multiple opportunities arise for inspiring, gallant stands from Rex and his friends. Rex's story is gentler than is currently fashionable, but these seemingly uncorrupted characters are well aware of darkness: divorce, domestic abuse, the deaths of soldiers. None of it touches their heroic childlike determination. An idealized portrait of feisty kids, but affecting for all that. (Fiction. 9-11) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2008 May

Gr 5-8-- That smart and funny sixth grader introduced in Rex Zero and the End of the World (Farrar, 2007) is back. The book is set in 1962 in Ottawa, where Rex lives with his quirky family and his scheming pals. Wynne-Jones perfectly and poignantly captures Rex's confusion with life and grown-ups, from his thinking that Armistice Day is "Our Mistress Day" to his struggle to understand his dad's zany humor. The boy wrestles with several mysteries. He can't understand why his teacher, Miss Garr, is so mean, and why his sad father keeps old photos and letters written in German. The biggest mystery presents itself, however, when Rex finds an address book that leads him to a beautiful woman whom he feels compelled to rescue from an abusive relationship. While laugh-out-loud funny in places (especially when Rex and his friends find a way to thwart the miserable Miss Garr), the book also deals with more difficult topics, especially with wartime experiences that weigh on Dad's heart. It will not matter that the 1960s references, especially to television shows, may not be familiar to young readers; Rex's first-person narration will ring true. He learns the ultimate coming-of-age lesson: life is not neat and tidy but rather messy and human. While it is not necessary to have read the first book to enjoy this one, children will no doubt want to read it after and will look forward to more adventures.--Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME

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