Friday, July 20, 2012

Guy Friday-- Lemony Snicket Methadone

Holmes, Jeremy. The Templeton Twins Have an Idea.
1 April 2012, Chronicle Books (although Amazon say 8/15/12, and my ARC says 9/12)

Before Abigail and John Templeton are even born, their professor father was pestered by a student who is unhappy with his grade, but when news comes that the birth is imminent, the professor rushes out without giving the student any satisfaction. Years later, the family is reeling from the death of the mother. Professor Templeton is working on his Personal One-Man Helicopter, and Tickeridge-Baltock (Tick-Tock Tech) will give him more funding than his current employer. The twins are not happy to be uprooted (along with their active terrier), although the nanny they get (Nanny Nan Noonan) is pleasant enough. These things are immaterial when Dean Dean shows up and claims that the Personal One-Man Helicopter was his idea, and he was the student brushed off by the professor on the way to the twins' birth. He hates the twins and literally wishes they had never been born, so kidnaps them in hopes that he can get the professor to sign away his rights to the POMH. Complications ensue, the narrator intersperses the story with quizzes and monologues, and eventually the twins save the day.
Strengths: Even in the ARC, the brilliance of the book design is evident. The hardcover will be very visually appealing.
Weaknesses: I have little patience for the overly precious, intrusive Narrator, and this book certainly has a lot of the Snicketesque goofiness that I personally do not enjoy. However, it must be noted that The Bad Beginning was published in 1999, and I still have about five copies of each book in the series, many in tatters, that circulate frequently. While this sort of book is not something I can stomach, the students all seem to like them.

It is with extreme sadness that I report the death of Mr. Donald J. Sobol, the author of the Encyclopedia Brown books. I learned of this through the Cybils web site, which lists obituaries at the Publishers Weekly web site, and well as several others.  I had not realized that Mr. Sobol went to Oberlin.

Three years ago, I sent Mr. Sobol a circulation card, and he replied with the most gracious letter. When I was in early elementary school, my mother and I used to sit together in the rocking chair, read the stories, and try to figure out the mysteries together. Since I never got to write to my other great literary love, Carolyn Heywood (who died in 1990), I am glad that I got to tell Mr. Sobol how much his books meant to me.

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