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The Neddiad: How Neddie Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization (Neddie & Friends #1)

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  990 ratings  ·  226 reviews
Bestselling author Daniel Pinkwater's story of how Neddie, a shaman, a ghost, three pals, and a maneuver known as the French substitution determine the fate of the world.

Melvin the Shaman. Sandor Eucalyptus. Billy the Phantom Bellboy. Daniel Pinkwater's weird and wonderful tale of Neddie Wentworthstein's quest to save civilization features some of the most unique heroes an
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 16th 2009 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 2007)
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One of the things I really like about Pinkwater's books is that they lack an urgent plot - you never end up worrying too much about things working out, or the kid being in Mortal Peril. Instead you can enjoy the quirky details. What stands out about this book to me is that this non-urgency is brought to the foreground. The main character is entrusted with the care of a stone turtle that has been passed from shaman to shaman for a long time. The shaman that gives him the turtle is constantly rein ...more
Why… why have so few of my Goodreads friends read this book?

I was certain that I’d log on and be assaulted with a wave of eloquent reviews, but no? Not one??


Starting with me.

May I introduce… The Neddiad!

Doo doo de doooooooooo!

The Neddiad follows our hero Neddie, heir to his father’s shoelace fortune, as he travels from Chicago to Los Angeles. In the forties. Whilst in Los Angeles, he makes friends with Seamus, whose father is a famous Hollywoo
I was able to conjure Daniel Pinkwater's fabulous voice over the weeks that I read this book aloud to my son - a voice like a kind uncle's - because I am so familiar with his years of NPR commentaries. The book itself is fabulous, and I mean that in both senses of the word. Pinkwater is a fabulous fabulist with an intact sense of childhood wonder and an appreciation for wild storytelling. He is Donald Barthelme for kids (if you are familiar with Barthelme, you may be put in mind of his story, "S ...more
This was a delightfully silly adventure that made me laugh out loud. It sort of felt like I was reading Tom Robbins if Tom Robbins had better plots and wrote for kids. There's Melvin the Shaman, who can't keep a secret and loves bowling, several eccentric families (the protagonist's father is the owner of a shoelace company and collects the shoelaces of famous people), Billy the Bellhop, a ghost who befriends Neddie and his friends and constantly tries to smell what they're eating, Iggy, the Gir ...more
Pam Saunders
I picked this book up because I liked the cover (I am so superficial) and it mentioned the main character, Ned, takes a train journey and I love train journeys. I am glad I did it as it was a quirky read.
Ned is blessed with parents who are suitably affluent, but don’t’ flaunt it, eccentric and even more fortunately love him with some benign neglect. He is thus able to explore, go on an adventure and meet a wide range of characters, maybe just a few too many. A couple of times I had that “who is
Hm. Laugh=out=loud funny in parts, delightful nonsense in others. A bit like The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear - but then, you're not likely to know that... Not as mathematically clever as Alice in Wonderland, not as rich in word-play as Phantom Tollbooth - but all the same in a class by itself. I think I like Pinkwater's shorter works better - but then this was pretty darn short. Ok, I give up; I don't know what to say. Try it if you want to. :)

ETA: I think if I were 10 years old, and maybe esp
Really great young adult novel. We had the added benefit of experiencing this as an audiobook read by the author, which in my view is key to getting the whole experience. Pinkwater's delivery has a kind of matter-of-fact tone that suits his eleven (yes? I think so) year old protagonist and his friends. Also, he makes no effort whatever to make up different voices for the different characters, and you have no trouble following along.

That's all on the audiobook though. If you just read the text yo
While this book might be labeled “fantasy”, it was written in such a straightforward style and obviously from the mindset of a child that I couldn’t really feel any “magic” in it. I will admit that Neddie’s open-hearted embrace of everything from the beauteous landscape he sees from his train window to a cowboy parade that causes him to miss his train to the La Brea Tar Pits (hilariously redundant in title) to his military classes is great to read. His childish joy sees delights and wonders prac ...more
Neddie's father decides to move the family from their affluent lifestyle in New Work. So the family embarks on a cross country train trip where Neddie is left behind at a stop. Through a series of coincidences and strange occurrences, Neddie acquires a small turtle that appears to be an important artifact. Now Neddie is trying to protect the turtle as mysterious forces seek to use it to destroy the world.

Frenetic. Breakneck. Disjointed. All these words can be used to describe author Daniel Pinkw
Meh. Pretty good. Go read the review I wrote on my blog that the AUTHOR HIMSELF commented on because I am a famous book reviewer: []
Carling Bock
This book was an must read for fiction lovers. Sometimes there is so much fantasy, I would lose track of what was real and what was fake. While I read it, it was very easy to paint pictures of the scenes in my head. The descriptive writing was colorful and I deeply enjoyed that aspect of the book. As I said before the plot was occasionally muddy, and I would find myself reading things over again. Reading this takes you to another world. It's very easy to lose yourself in this book. Neddie is a h ...more
Ezekiel R
Jul 19, 2011 Ezekiel R rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Cora Egherman
Recommended to Ezekiel by: Adam Egherman
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Macpherson
I loved this book. Pinkwater creates such a great insane world. It takes place in the late forties or early fifties where Neddie gets entangled in a plot that will devolve the world into the Ice Age. Pinkwater's character talk and interact in a way only he can pull off. I would have given it five stars but then the book didn't end, it just stopped. A very dissapointing last page. He created a rambling world and then had his narrator say he would like to wrap up the story of his characters, but o ...more
Perfectly strange and charming.
A story about a boy, his friend, a turtle, shamans, Los Angeles in the 1940s, the circus, and an evil studio head. More about the humor than adventuring, this is generally a silly and good natured book. In other words, you will like the characters and the jokes, but you won't get too stressed out about whether the ending will work out or not. Chapters are short and designed to be read aloud (although I did not.) There are even a few Latin jokes in here, but fear not, there aren't so many that yo ...more


This book is narrated by an elementary school aged boy of post WWII USA. Ned tells the story of his family's impulse move from Chicago to Los Angeles, the exciting world of LA where buildings can be shaped like giant hats or doughnuts or other things, and how he is destined to save the world from an ancient dark devolutionary Kronos-type chaos.
Although the impending doom of civilization is the suspense tool that keeps you reading throught the book, t
OK, hopefully my review goes through this time. This was a fantastic read. I would recommend it for anyone looking for a light read who isn't to snotty to read a children's book, but also definitely to children!

This is a great book for reading to multiple ages simultaneously, since there is enough to keep everyone's attention, but nothing that would be too confusing for younger ones (I'm thinking best for ages 6 to 12). Also, the chapters are super short, like two or three pages, so you get to b
Mar 18, 2011 Jeanna rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeanna by: Brice
Shelves: children-books
Oh, how to describe this novel. Have you ever heard my husband make up a story on the spot? It's a lot like that, only longer. It's pretty much silly, random, and meandering, but still in some strange way quite entertaining. While the book follows the standard plot arc (rising action, climax, denouement, blah blah blah), the rising action is really long. And not really rising. I think that's actually the defining characteristic of the weirdness of the book. Usually you expect rising action to ge ...more
Every time I passed this book in the children's section of the library, I knew I wanted to read it. I just never had enough time. So when I saw it at the library book sale this past weekend, I knew I had to get it. And it was well-worth the wait. I didn't notice till after I bought it that it had a glowing endorsement from Neil Gaiman (one of my favorite writers) on the back cover, and the story kind of reminds me of "American Gods" and "Anansi Boys," because of the mythological aspect to the st ...more
Elizabeth K.
Oh, Daniel Pinkwater, I love you so. I would totally run away with you (in a chaste way) to go live on an island populated by reptiles. I think if anyone else tried to do what he does with his wacky plots, it would come off as contrived and trying too hard and gimmicky. Somehow his books end up great. While going from Chicago to LA on the Super Chief in the 1940s, Neddie Wentworthstein is given a small turtle by a Navajo shaman that starts him off on a series of strange adventures involving Holl ...more
I love Daniel Pinkwater's children's books, particularly the Bad Bears titles (who can't love two blueberry-muffin stealing polar bears called Irving and Muktuk?) so I was intrigued by this novel-length adventure... it didn't disappoint. This is magically realistic urban fantasy told with Pinkwater's trademark oddness and charm. This tale treads some of the same ground as Neil Gaiman's American Gods and even Stephen King's Dark Tower series. Pinkwater's sparse prose perfectly captures our young ...more
Heather Pearson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Neil Gaiman said it best, calling Daniel Pinkwater “A delight in oddness.” Pinkwater is the author of one of my favorite children’s books, Lizard Music. The Neddiad, How Neddie Took The Train, Went To Hollywood, And Saved Civilization is just as strange and wonderful! Neddie’s father is the wealthy shoe string king. His family decides to up and move to Hollywood, taking the famed train Super Chief, to get there. When the family stops at a Native American gift shop in New Mexico, Neddie is given ...more
Kelly Bryson
This book was amazing and totally deserving of the blurb that Neil Gaiman gave it- "What Pinkwater does is Magic".

On a train trip, Neddie gets separated from his loving and odd family, meets a Navajo Shaman named Melvin and is given a turtle carving. He becomes the boy with the turtle, the hero who must save the world. Neddie meets new friends like a ghostie bellhop and a lonely actor's son and together they make some mistakes and learn how to keep on keeping on, and possibly save the world. You
Someone said in a review below, you either get Daniel Pinkwater or you don't. I used to get him and kind of still do. He's kind of like Douglas Adams for kids--totally random farce with funny details, but probably too many at times as you wish for the plot to advance.

This book is about a 50's boy drawn into a creation-of-the-world Indian legend. There are decentish characters and some laugh-out-loud lines...and lots of details as the plot moves slowly to an end. It's satisfying and slightly ann
This book caught my eye because of the blurb by Neil Gaiman on the cover. When I started reading it, however, the beginning was confusing, weird, and felt like it was trying too hard to be clever, and I nearly gave up. However, after a few chapters passed, the story picked up, having settled into a nice flow, and I was able to enjoy it.

The Neddiad is the story of Neddie, a young kid in the 1940's who moves to Los Angeles with his family and, along the way, is given a stone turtle that he must ke
Alice Cai
The Neddiad
By Daniel Pinkwater
307 Pages

Neddie is travelling on a train to Los Angeles. To eat in a hat. He befriends Seamus Finn, the son of a Hollywood movie actor, a ghost, a shaman who gifts him with a turtle, Yggdrasil, and Al, whose father owns a circus and a great deal of elephants. Inevitably the turtle is the key to saving civilization, and Neddie is entrusted with the task.

If the summary was any indication, this book was absolutely ridiculous. It was quirky and strange and unconv
I had no idea what to expect from this book, but with a subtitle of "How Neddie took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization", how can you go wrong? I actually saw the sequel to this book "The Yggyssey" and it peaked my interest, so I got the first book from the library and read it. This was an absolutely wonderful book. I don't know why I haven't heard of Pinkwater before. Oddly enough after I read this book Gaiman mentioned Pinkwater as one of his favorite writers on his blog; so ...more
I vacillate between three and four stars for this quirky, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy-for-American-Children, chapter book. I found myself snickering at the subtle sarcasm and Woody Allen-esque dialogue, but wondered a few times if the silliness was inanity.

I looked for accuracy in the historical 1940s Americana references, I looked for meaning behind the names which felt like anagrams, and I was desperately trying to figure out who it was that Neddie shouldn't be trusting in all the people
The book was interesting, a fun adventure. Not Indiana Jones-type adventure, but a kid having an interesting situation unfurl around him. Some lines were very funny, but mostly it was pretty straightforward. What bothered me most in the writing was the chapter transitions--or rather, the abrupt ending to most chapters. In 300 pages, there are 79 chapters, many of which seemed to flow more smoothly if I just ignored the chapter break. You can probably get that from the half of the book that's onl ...more
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Daniel Manus Pinkwater is an author of mostly children's books and is an occasional commentator on National Public Radio. He attended Bard College. Well-known books include Lizard Music, The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, Fat Men from Space, Borgel, and the picture book The Big Orange Splot. Pinkwater has also illustrated many of his books in the past, although for more recent works that ...more
More about Daniel Pinkwater...

Other Books in the Series

Neddie & Friends (3 books)
  • The Yggyssey: How Iggy Wondered What Happened to All the Ghosts, Found Out Where TheyWent, and Went There
  • Adventures of a Cat-Whiskered Girl
The Big Orange Splot Lizard Music 5 Novels: Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars / Slaves of Spiegel / The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death / The Last Guru / Young Adult Novel The Hoboken Chicken Emergency Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy From Mars

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