The story begins by introducing the Cheeseman family: the 'odorous' Mr. Ethan Cheeseman, his wife Olivia, three 'relatively odor-free' children and the family pets; a psychic dog named Pinky and Steve, a talking sock puppet.
Ethan and his wife are about to complete a time machine, and two top-secret agents show up to steal it. Initially, the antagonists use diplomacy, claiming that they need the invention for "the greater good". Their motives are suspect, and Olivia, realizing this, refuses. Shortly thereafter, Olivia contacts a mysterious illness and dies.
The family initially grieves but not for long. They are being targeted and followed. The agents are revealed as employees for a weapons developer. Ethan plans to travel back in time, reunite with his wife, and escape pursuit; but the time machine isn't working. He, his family, and the machine take to the road in a station wagon.
Pursued by the incompetent but determined agents, the Cheeseman family is forced to flee repeatedly. During their travels they encounter a number of other wanderers.
The story has many recurring gags; for example, Cheeseman's end-of-chapter 'unsolicited' advice. The Cheeseman kids also rename themselves with every move, with humorous results.
The book's main themes are family solidarity and togetherness through difficulty: in times of need, a family is the best support. Ethan is shown to care very deeply about his children and is always protective. Broadly, the book explores the following:-Cleverness
Courage, Bravery, Heroism
Creativity and Imagination
In an interview with Cassandra Clare, Dr. Cuthbert Soup revealed: "My inspiration for A Whole Nother Story was the result of a trip to my friendly neighborhood bookstore. And when I say friendly, I mean a little too friendly. They hug you on the way in. Creepy, to say the least. Anyway, while perusing the bookstore aisles (and dodging the overly familiar sales staff) I spotted, high upon one of the shelves, a very conspicuous empty slot. Needless to say I was appalled and I decided right there and then that someone needed to write something immediately in order to fill that awful black hole of booklessness. That person, I decided, should be Nathaniel Hawthorne. Then I remembered that Nathaniel Hawthorne is dead. I realized then that it would be up to me to plug up that awful void between War and Peace and Wig Making for Dummies. The result is A Whole Nother Story. Perhaps I’ll tell it to you sometime."
On the children changing names, Dr. Soup said, "I suppose it could be said that I have multiple names being that my full name is Cuthbert Hubert Egbert Soup and my real last name is Schoupenstein, which was shortened when my family immigrated to America from Vienna at the height of the Great Sausage Famine. I don’t mind the fact that they chose to shorten my family name but to be honest it makes my cousin, Minestrone, absolutely livid."
Dr. Soup jokingly remarked that he, "holds a Ph.D in Unsolicited Advice."
Kirkus Review gave it a positive review, comparing Soup to Dave Barry. "Soup... positively channels Dave Barry for type of humor, comic timing and general style...Great fun." Amazon praised the book, writing, "Middle grade readers who dig the tongue-twisters, quirky villains, hilarious hijinx, and brave and brainy kids of the Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch will find lots to laugh-out-loud about in A Whole Nother Story" and further added "every page of this debut novel, narrated by the unusual Dr. Cuthbert Soup, is full of snappy dialogue, unexpected twists and turns, and unsolicited advice on subjects ranging from how to choose a dog to timely advice on time travel."
Publisher Weekly a positive review, citing humorous and tongue-in-cheek narrative: "The storytelling, which merges deadpan narration with an absurdist sense of humor, is the real star of this fast-paced adventure." Angela Sherill of Publisher Weekly compared the narrative style of Dr. Soup with Lemony Snicket and Jonathan Stroud "Young readers will enjoy Dr. Soup's voice, likening him to Lemony Snicket or Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus."
The negative reviews mentioned unrealized characterization in the story, and the repetitious foolhardiness of some characters. It received a mixed review by the School Library Journal: "The inanity can be wearing and the characters (except for the youngest Cheeseman's sock puppet, Steve) don't quite gel into fully realized people. Still, those who enjoyed Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events will find some of the same surreal qualities in this first book in a series—and a bit more warmth besides."
A Whole Nother Story was selected by Kirkus Reviews at the end of the year as one of the best children's books of 2010. It also got the distinction of being selected by The Junior Library Guild.
Owing to the success of A Whole Nother Story, Dr.Soup wrote a sequel entitled Another Whole Nother Story, released on February 24, 2012.
The sequel carries on the plot of the first: Ethan continues his quest to go back in time to rescue his wife, but his efforts are blocked Murphy's Law.