Chandu and the Super Set of Parents, by Roopa Raveendran-Menon, for Timeslip Tuesday

Chandu and the Super Set of Parents, by Roopa Raveendran-Menon (middle grade, Regal House Publishing, Feb. 5, 2021), is the 450th book I've reviewed for Timeslip Tuesday.  In the course of reading lots and lots of time travel books, I've generally thought of them falling into two main camps--Time Travel tourism/education, in which the time travel experience serves to teach lessons about past or about life, and Time Travel for profit, which is mostly heists of things from the past and future.   There are other smaller camps, like Time Travel to right old wrongs, and then there a very small sub-category, of Time Travel that doesn't actually drive plot or characters in any way on its own, but enables it (or small bits of it, like Hermione's Time Turner....).   There might be more of these than I'm aware off, because they don't get catalogued as "time travel," but I count them for my own purposes, which is to have a book to write about on (most) Tuesdays!

So in any event, Chandu and the Super Set of Parents is a book in which a time travel device is a key mechanism in the story; it's also, and more importantly, a whacky adventure full of wild imaginings and vivid descriptions.

Chandu is fed up with his parents' expectations and hopes for him--his engineer father expects him to be a great mathematician and engineer, and his mother hopes he'll just be safely ordinary.  Chandu doesn't exactly know what he wants himself, but neither of the two parental options appeal.  When he does well, but not well enough, on a math exam, the threat of a boarding school even stricter and more demanding than his current school looms--and both his father's pick and his mother's are equally dreadful.  

That night, sore at heart and feeling unloved, he sneaks out of the house, and finds himself lost on a forest path he's never seen before.  It leads him to The Exchange Your Parents Shop, and the strange proprietor offers him the opportunity to enroll in the Happily Ever After Program, that finds kids their perfect parent.  And so Chandu sets out to spend a day and a night with a series of utterly extraordinary parents.

(This is where the time travel comes in--he takes with him a device that resets time after each visit, with no time passing in his own life....)

Traveling by elephant, peacock, hot air balloon, and tiger, Chandu is taken from one set of parents to the next. He gets to be (briefly) the child of math geniuses, movie superstars, famous athlete, extraordinary crafters, and parents who are utterly obedient to his every whim. All the parents are over-the-top extremists-- entertainingly, and rather horrifically, so--and in the end, he realizes that he prefers his own parents after all.

It's a bit slow to get going, mainly because it doesn't focus on Chandu's point of view for the first few chapters. But once he starts visiting parents, it becomes lots of fun! There's tons of vivid description, not just of the parents and their peculiar set-ups and expectations, but of more mundane things, like food--delicious Indian food appears throughout!

Chandu does get the chance at each visit to realize that he has his own particular strengths and interests, and returns to ordinary life with more confidence. He also returns to parents who act a lot more supportively than they did at the beginning of the book, when they really were awful (so much so that I couldn't quite believe they were so decent at the end).

Not quite to my own personal taste, though I did enjoy the various parents, but is one I can recommend  as a read-aloud for an elementary school aged kid (the first few chapters, in particular, I think, would be more likely to hook a young reader if read out loud to them).

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher

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