Saturday, March 19, 2016

Cartoon Saturday- Monsters

Tatulli, Mark. Desmond Puckey and the Mountain Full of Monsters
August 5th 2014 by Andrews McMeel Publishin

Copy received from publisher

In this second book in the series (#1-Makes Monster Magic #3-Cloverfield Junior High Carnival of Horrors), Desmond and his friends have a class trip to Crab Shell Pier, where Desmond is excited to finally get to ride on the Mountain Full of Monsters ride. He also hopes to get Tina to ride it with him, but there is quite the ordeal with a note that gets into the wrong hands, and a complication with Becky DeWicky, who likes Desmond as much as he likes Tina! When Desmond and his friends find out that the ride is going to be demolished, they try to earn money to buy as many of the monsters as they can. Thanks to a sympathetic park director who also loves the ride, they are able to buy a number of them. Add funny elements like Ricky DeMarco's grandparents, who are completely obsessed with Christmas, and a lot of illustrations, and this is a book that will be popular with fans of Big Nate,Obert Skye's Wonkenstein, and Tom Angleberger's Origami Yoda series. 
Strengths: I loved that Mr. Humphries, the park manager, and Desmond bonded over the monsters. I have a soft spot for old theme parks, especially fairy tale ones, and I liked that Desmond was using his interest in monsters for a purpose. The middle school romance depicted is very true to life. 
Weaknesses: Mr. Needles and his motivations have always bothered me-- now we find out that he had problems with Desmond's parents? A bit much. Not fond of the stereotypical bully Scott, either. 
What I really think: This series is growing on me, and I find myself looking forward to the next book in the series. 

Demon DentistWalliams, David. Demon Dentist
March 1st 2016 by HarperCollins 
ARC from Young Adult Books Central

There are several reasons that Alfie doesn't want to go to the dentist-- he had a horrific experience with a decayed tooth earlier, his father is disabled and needs a lot of care, and horrible things are being left under children's pillows in town by someone who is using the Tooth Fairy as a way to horrify children instead of giving them loose change! When Miss Root, a new dentist in town, is invited to speak at Alfie's school, she doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the dental professional in him, but when social worker Winnie demands that he go to the dentist, he doesn't have much choice. Unfortunately, Miss Root really is evil and only justifies Alfie's fears. With the help of classmate Gabz as well as local newsagent Raj, Alfie works to bring the evil dentist to justice before she can ruin any more teeth!

Like Stine's US Goosebumps books or Roald Dahl's typically British "horror" stories, there's not anything truly frightening in Demon Dentist, but Walliams does a good job at taking a fear children do have and presenting it in an amusing way. Everything about this story is over the top-- Alfie's dental habits are abysmal, Winnie is flamboyant in her manner of dress and even more flamboyant when she loses all of her clothes crawling under a fence, and the demon dentist is pure evil in the manner of Cruella deVil, to whom she bears a passing resemblance. 

There are some serious issues as well-- Alfie's father is suffering from the effects of black lung and dies after exerting himself to save Alfie. Luckily, Alfie has supportive adults in his life, from Winnie the social worker who begins to care for him to Raj, the newsagent who gives Alfie food when the boy is hungry and even his late wife's dentures!

Tony Ross's frenetic line illustrations add another dimension of comedy to the book, and we see Winnie on her moped going around inside of Alfie's school, the disastrous results of toxic toothpaste being dumped into the canal, and even the demon dentist's den lined with children's teeth!

British children's books are very distinctive in their portrayal of the life of children, and while their books occasionally make me worry about the welfare of children in the UK, the books are amusing. Fans of Colfer's Legend of Spud Murphy, Fleischman's The Dunderheads or even Jacqueline Wilson's more realistic fiction will find Alfie's adventures to be hysterically funny but also heart warming.

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