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

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,233 Ratings  ·  257 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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Jul 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids, fiction, humor, favorites
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
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
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Buy this book now. Buy 6, 1 for you and 5 for your friends. It's that good. So enjoyable. It makes you want to be a kid again!
Jul 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Heidi Burkhart
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a reread for me.Actually, I listened to it on audiobook, read by the author. I am a huge fan of all of Pinkwater's books, and this zany tale was great for making me laugh throughout this fantastic book.
Strange, but entertaining tall tale about a young boy's adventures and the drama surrounding a small stone turtle he is given.

Chapter 71 quote - old as creation

Turtle scene at end
Pam Saunders
Oct 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sarah Sammis
While Pinkwater's book culminates in an epic battle involving a Lovecraftian monster, the La Brea tarpits, the World Turtle, and one very confused and young hero — there's this weirdly wonderful deconstruction of an American road narrative
Jul 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: kids of all ages, lovers of the absurd
Recommended to Agathafrye by: Carrie
I highly recommend listening to this audiobook in the mornings while you shower. It takes a while to finish, but the satisfaction is worth the wait. My daughter doesn't like Pinkwater's voice (he sounds fat, she says), but I find it rather comforting. This is classic absurd Pinkwater: a young boy, his family, and their many canaries move from Chicago to Hollywood on a luxury train to pursue a dream of eating at the Brown Derby every day. He meets a shaman named Melvin, who gives him a tiny stone ...more
Sarah Sammis
Sep 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Neddiad by Daniel Pinkwater is the first book of what's now a three book series. In my usual fashion of finding the second book first, I actually learned about the series via The Yggssey (review coming). This time though I learned from experience and found the first book and started from the beginning of the series.

Ned, the titular character, is the son of the shoelace king. On a whim they decide to move from Chicago to Hollywood. They leave by train and that's where the weirdness starts.

Aug 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
I really enjoyed this book, recommended to me by my turtle-loving, 9-year-old grandson. It's unusual for a book aimed at this age group to take place in the 1940's with references to spam and the (unheard of!) cost of going to the movies. But it has adventure, odd characters, mysterious happenings, ghosts and enough silliness to keep you page-turning.
Ash Rocketship
Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Fun story with neat references and lots of artfully plain sentences. The borrowing from world cultures seemed a little iffy -- white people, man -- but seemed to be done from a kind place at the very least. Will be seeking out Pinkwater again, certainly.
May 20, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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: []
Perfectly strange and charming.
Ezekiel R
Jul 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bigger-kids
I've definitely got to read more of his stuff, but based on this, I'm saying Daniel Pinkwater is the kids' Tom Robbins. I like.
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent young adult read but it is magical for all ages. It is books like this that will open kids eyes to the joy of reading! Lots of hidden facts for kids to read and learn about, but lots of entertaining information for grown-ups to enjoy. I cannot wait for more Neddie! Highly recommended!
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always enjoy Pinkwater. Cameos by some past characters, a cross country adventure via train and car, shamans, Lovecraftian creatures, tar pits, mammoths, and ghostly friends! This one is an interesting ride, and I look forward to reading the Yggyssey next. This will go onto the shelf for my kid when he gets a bit older :)
Patrycja 706
This is a very strange but interesting book. I often found it confusing, but i the end I understood most of it. One of the things that was hard to follow was the plot, though I've heard that is how Pinkwater's writing just is. I really had to slow down at the ending too, and almost got lost about twice. This is a book that is hard to follow, but now that I look back, it all worked out for me with this book.
I praise the author’s imagination and am glad I read this book, no matter how weird it g
Amanda Moore
Read this with the kids in preparation for our first trip to Southern California. Kids enjoyed the book. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I could remember the details of the Iliad better.
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entirely satisfying. Delightful. Pitch perfect.
Sep 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is this whole Shaman/Native American bit that I just didn't like. The book itself is well-written and funny. My 11 year old enjoyed it. But I can't say I would recommend it because if the way NA stereotypes are used in this book.
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Heather Pearson
Jul 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
Nov 19, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: only die-hard Pinkwater fans
Shelves: juvenile
Another reviewer commented to the effect of, "either you like Pinkwater or you don't" and I'm thinking that my reaction to this book must mean I probably don't. The title is promising, but although the book has moments of good drama, it doesn't sustain itself. The pacing is awfully uneven. Rather than chugging along like the Super Chief, it stalls and jerks along similar to the Blue Line at its worst.
Other than the airplane scene, one never really feels like Neddie is in very much peril at all,
Jul 05, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
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


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
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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