Friday, November 18, 2011

Janitors by Tyler Whitesides

Whitesides, Tyler. Janitors.
After an encounter with what he thinks is soap, Spencer starts seeing creepy creatures roaming the halls of his middle school. He enlists the help of a classmate, Daisy, to help him figure out what is going on and uncovers a long standing problem-- since the beginning of public schools, buildings have been infected with Toxites, creatures who strip children of their intelligence for their own evil purposes. After being tricked by a janitorial manager, the two find out the real story and work against the side of evil to keep their school safe. (Don't want to spoil the good twists in this.) In the end, the immediate crisis is averted, but expect the two back in the upcoming Secrets of New Forest Academy.)

Strengths: I have a lot of students ask for modern fantasy books, and this fresh take on school life, monsters, and somewhat creepy grown ups will be just what I need. It put me in mind of Mull's The Candy Shop War, so I was surprised when I noticed that the cover blurb was from Mull!
Weaknesses: The exposition about the history of the Toxites, as well as the name, bothered me vaguely, but won't bother students. Perhaps if it had been incorporated more slowly into the narrative. Also could have worked in a dig against standardized achievement testing-- Mr. Whiteside, please talk to Jordan Sonnenblick about this while working on the next book!

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