Sunday, October 23, 2011

Meanwhile… by Jules Feiffer

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.


  1. I LOVE THIS BOOK! Feiffer is brilliant! Have you read FORTUNATELY by Remy Charlip? Another great book along similar lines. THAT'S GOOD! THAT'S BAD! by Margery Cuyler is another fun one. I am so glad you are sharing your knowledge and passion with other readers and lovers of picture books! Welcome to the blogoshpere!

  2. Yes, Meanwhile is a great book. I think I first heard the title from you.

    Yes, we have read Fortunately and That's Good! That's Bad. There's a sequel to That's Good! That's Bad that takes place in the Grand Canyon. The boys didn't enjoy it as much as the first. Thanks for posting the first comment to my blog. I wish I had a prize to give you:-)