Text and pictures copyright ©1997 by Jules Feiffer
Written in comic book format, the story begins with young Raymond engrossed in a comic book. Raymond’s mother begins to call him; he ignores her; she becomes more insistent and exasperated. Raymond notices that in the comic book he is reading, the word “MEANWHILE” followed by three dots …. is used to cause a scene change. Curious as to whether it will work in real life, Raymond scrawls the word on his bedroom wall. To his initial delight, it does indeed precipitate a scene change. He finds himself transported into a swashbuckling scene on a pirate ship where he eventually is forced to walk the plank. Under the guise of writing a letter to his mother, Raymond asks for a pen and paper as his one last request.
Instead, he writes “MEANWHILE…” and is transported to another scene where he finds himself in the Wild West being pursued by a posse on horseback. He gives the posse the slip but to his horror he encounters a mountain lion . Raymond searches for a weapon but all he discovers is an old rusty bullet in his holster. Without a moment to spare, he uses it to scratch “MEANWHILE…” on a rock.
He is instantly transported to a space ship in outer space where he is under attack by aliens. When his ship is destroyed, the ever resourceful Raymond uses his “backpack-autopower-vaporwriter” to write “MEANWHILE…”
Unfortunately, Raymond is now transported back to the first scene where he is walking the plank, then he is back to facing the mountain lion, then back to falling through outerspace; the “MEANWHILES…” are extricating Raymond from one dangerous scene only to place him into another equally perilous one. Raymond finds himself plummeting toward earth as he repeatedly yells “MEANWHILE…” but to no avail for he has run out of “MEANWHILES…” You will just have to read the book to learn of Raymond's ultimate fate.
This book is a fun filled adventure that is perfect for boys. It has a frantic pace that leaves you and the kids feeling wonderfully breathless. My son compared it to a roller coaster ride. Because of the frequent scene changes, Meanwhile... is slightly more complicated than the typical picture book and that adds to the appeal for my boys. They have wanted Meanwhile... read to them over and over in the last year, examining the hilarious illustrations, laughing out loud, and each time better comprehending all that transpires.