Saturday, February 20, 2016
Tatulli, Mark. Desmond Pucket and the Cloverfield Junior High Carnival of Horrors
February 16th 2016 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Copy provided by publisher
Desmond is still a fan of making monsters (Desmond Pucket Makes Monster Magic), and he is sure that Principal Badonkus will let him participate in the school's Carnival of Horrors, but he soon finds out that the principal is now the superintendent, and the Cloverfield's new principal is Mr. Needles! The carnival is canceled, and Desmond is crushed. He and his friends try to find a compelling reason to have the event, and find that an unused gymnasium would make a great venue, and saving the librarian's job would be a great reason to have a fund raiser. They manage to talk Mr. Needles into having the event, but things don't go smoothly. Desmond's monsters get stolen, and there are other road blocks. Eventually, though, Desmond triumphs by using some great ideas to make his ride appeal to the widest range of people.
Strengths: I liked this one better than the first; Mr. Needles seems to have calmed down, and it does have a great librarian! Desmond's plan is a really clever one. There seem to be more pictures than I remember the first one having, and lots of Desmond's art work.
Weaknesses: Like Tashjian's Einstein the Class Hamster Saves the Library, there are several things in the book that are unrealistic. I can't imagine abandoned space in any buildings; maybe the old gym is being used for storage. Also, fundraisers can't save library positions. And using the old gym for a high school day care program for which the district charges enough money that the staff can have free child care-- great idea, but there are so many problems with that.
What I really think: Should probably break down and buy the whole series, since Notebook Novels are impossible to keep on the shelves.
Teague, David. Henry Cicada's Extraordinary Elktonium Escapade
January 19th 2016 by HarperCollins
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central
Henry and his father move from Philadelphia to a small Texa town because the father is so overwrought by the (cancer?) death of the mother that he loses his job as a librarian because he spends all of his time trying to find a use for the metal the mother discovered, Elktonium, which is basically useless. Henry goes to school with Elktonium shoes and meets Theotis T. Otis, the school bully, as well as bullying victim Jurgen Mintfarm. He also finds Pim Pom, an abandoned, three legged dog. In trying to find a place for the dog to sleep, he puts the dog in an Elktonium pyramid, and is soon whisked away to Raisin, Texas, where he gets caught up in drama with Lulu the Tire Giant and her niece Tiffany. Lulu is trying to get Tiffany to because a ballet dancer since her parents are up in space. Henry goes back home and finds out that his mother might have known that the Elktonium helped people travel to other dimensions. He decides he must rescue Tiffany, so borrows General Hedgerow's motorcycle with a sidecar and takes off with Jurgen to Raisin. When they find out that Tiffany is heading to a competition in Nowhere, Texas, they are very worried because it is a ghost town, and Tiffany might become a ghost. When Lulu finds out the plan, she kidnaps Pim Pom, but is eventually tricked into going into the pyramid and ends up in jail.
This was one wacky adventure, with plenty of humorous moments and laugh-out-loud silly escapades that younger readers will find amusing.
For readers who like books with a touch of spurious science, like Carmen's Fizzopolis or Scieszka's Frank Einstein books, this will give them a super goofy, frenetic, space and time dimension bending adventure. It reads a little like Roald Dahl, with the super evil Lulu, who seems to have little motivation for belittling Tiffany, as well as the evil bully Theotis and the incomprehensible guidance conselour Skander, who cites Marlin Perkins in his dealing's with Henry.
This may also appeal to readers who like ostensibly funny books that hide a heaping serving of sadness, like Gephardt's Death by Toilet Paper or Silberberg's Milo, Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze. Since Henry and his father find out about the real uses for Elktonium at the end of the book, and they also now have Tiffany on their hands, I suspect there might even be a sequel.
This is also one of those books where I feel, about two chapters in, that the author secretly hates me and wants me to suffer. Or the author doesn't understand what the target demographic wants to read, which is probably the case, since the author has two adorable dogs and is most likely not a bad person.
There are some perfectly fine authors to whom I just don't vibrate. Wendy Mass, for example. Since this author also did Saving Lucas Biggs and Connect the Stars, I'm going to put him in this category. Perhaps his picture books are better. I have a hardcover of this, but will probably send it over to a friend who teaches 5th grade. I just don't see my students reading it. Sort of like The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman, they'll check it out and bring it back later the same day. Sigh.
Posted by Ms. Yingling at 11:02 AM