Thursday, September 07, 2017

The Cat Stole My Pants: Timmy Failure #6

31868837Pastis, Stephan. The Cat Stole My Pants: Timmy Failure #6
April 25th 2017 by Candlewick Press
Copy Provided by Young Adult Books Central

Timmy finds himself in Key West, Florida, ostensibly on his mother's honeymoon. He doesn't believe she really married Doorman Dave, but nonetheless he is there with Dave's nephew Emilio, who is supposed to be his intern in his detective agency. Since Total, his polar bear, has decided to swim to Cuba, Timmy does need staff, but he doesn't feel that Emilio is competent. There is a mystery wherever Timmy goes, from the titular missing pants to the appearance of odd and somehow threatening notes. Timmy's mother never understands the demands of his career and has signed him up for summer school with Corinna Corinna, and even has her Skype with him. The class assignment is reading three very long books and reporting on them, which Total offers to do as long as Timmy provides cash for him to buy food in Cuba. Timmy is surprised to meet a shadowy figure from his past who sheds some light on issues that had been bothering him, and who also solves one of he mysteries.

For people who do not read Pastis' comic strip Pearls Before Swine in the daily newspaper, my students are inordinately fond of Timmy Failure. Notebook Novels such as Tashjian's Einstein: Class Hamster, Pichon's Tom Gates and Patterson's Middle School books are never on the shelves. The short chapters, goofy characters and plentiful illustrations make these books a welcome respite from the more series, text-heavy books that language arts teachers like to assign.

In some ways, Timmy is a modern day Encyclopedia Brown, if we can imagine Encyclopedia hallucinating about having a polar bear around instead of Sally Kimball. The mysteries concern some neighborhood occurrence and are easily solved by looking at the obvious clues. The main difference between the two is that Encyclopedia looked at actual clues, whereas Timmy has a tendency to decide on random perpetrators because he thinks they look shifty.

There are very few books set in Key West, even though it is a fascinating place. Holm's Turtle in Paradise and the sequel, Full of Beans, are the only two that I can think of. If this summer is so busy that a real holiday isn't going to happen, adventuresome readers can take a virtual trip to the sunny land of Hemingway and his mitten pawed cats-- and not even have to worry that someone will steal their pants.

32333194Keene, Carolyn. The Professor and the Puzzle (Nancy Drew Diaries #15)
August 8th 2017 by Aladdin

Nancy reconnects with her old friend Iris when Oracle College, an exclusive university near River Heights, has its annual Greek Festival, hosted by its oddly active Classics department. When one of the students addresses the crowd from a balcony, he falls. Luckily, he is only injured, but Nancy discovers that Professor Stone was supposed to be the one to give the speech. Someone also steals her African Gray Parrot who speaks Greek and lives in her office. Nancy manages to uncover some suspicious academic practices and solve the murder.
Strengths: Nancy is a high school student dealing with college students, so even though the target demographic is clearly tweens, it has the allusion of being for older readers.The print is a good size, the books are a quick read, and the mysteries are just scary and exciting enough. Wildly popular with my Phoebe Rivers' Sara Normal fans, this book was checked out twice in the first two weeks of school!
Weaknesses: Nancy is still very white bread, upper middle class, and privileged to the gills. Also, I could NOT believe that there was a Classics department this active. It should be illegal to let anyone major in Latin. There have not been jobs in the field for 30 years!
What I really think: I may have to buy The Haunting on Heliotrope Lane. Since the books don't have to be read in order, they are not a bad investment in mysteries.
Ms. Yingling


  1. My son is a freshman currently with a classics major. I blame his high school Latin teacher. Although he's also studying Ancient Greek, so there's that. Oh well, as long as his grades are good I'll be supportive.

  2. Oh, no. NONONONONONONONO! I majored in Latin and minor edit in Ancient Greek 35 years ago and there were no jobs then. It is unconscionable that a school would allow this. Majoring in Latin caused YEARS of unemployment for me. Is it exaggerating to say it ruined my life? Perhapsbut a good 20 years of it. Get your son to switch to an employable medical field immediately. Majoring in Classics leads to nothing but heartbreak.