Book of Bad Bargains

Children - General
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 01/31/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

Book of Bad Bargains, both written and illustrated by Laura Teste, is a lyrical children's book accompanied by original artwork in the line drawing style. The book is narrated in the first person by the eldest of two siblings who are bored after school in their uncle's backyard. Jazz, the young sister, requests a marble swap; her two green marbles for his one blue. She refers to her brother only as “Big bro” or “Big brother” and begins to negotiate a trade. Enticing Big brother turns out to be more than a simple two-for-one trade, but Jazz is persistent in her desire to close the deal and, as a result, she continues adding items to sweeten the pot. These include, but are certainly not limited to, Jazz singing for her brother, a kraken, a working spaceship, and a lotion potion that turns its user invisible.

Jazz, you clever girl, you had me at hadrosaur's tooth...but it was still loads of fun seeing all the wacky and wonderful items being pulled out of thin air and inflatable kiddie pools. Book of Bad Bargains is an absolute delight to read and likely one of the most creative I've come across in several months. Laura Teste has a talent for rhythmic prose, churning out lines like, “A photon zips. A photon flits; So, hold this really tight. When set free, a photon flies; Fast like the speed of light.” Perhaps more impressive is the fact that Teste is also the artist of her book's illustrations, which is a rare treat and not something we come across often in kid-lit. The science fiction aspects are well-integrated and child friendly. They are consistently simple to read and easy to absorb. As a 'girl dad,' I was particularly happy to see that the wheeling, dealing little firecracker of a science prodigy is female. Overall, this is a tightly written and exceptionally well-crafted story. Very highly recommended.