Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The Mystery of the Moon Tower and My Video Game Ate My Homework

Sedita, Francesco, Seraydarian, Prescott and Hamaker, Steve.
The Mystery of the Moon Tower (Pathfinders #1)
April 21st 2020 by Viking Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Kyle and his mother move back to Windrose, where his mother was raised, and she sends him to Merriweather's camp so he doesn't spend the summer playing video games. The town is a quirky place, with odd gaseous eruptions and strange weather, and the camp is quirky, too. There, he is thrown in with Beth, Vic, Harry, and Nate, who all have their own interests and talents. After watching an old movie about the town, they start to investigate and break into the Merriweather house, which is run down and surrounded by a moat. In the house, they meet Mildred Merriweather, the great niece of the camp founder. She gives them access to the building (which is to be torn down), which starts them on an epic, magical adventure. They find clues and secret rooms, solve puzzles, and embrace Merriweather's philosophy of "path finding". Will they be able to find the fabled treasure of Windrose and save the Merriweather legacy?
Strengths: Older fans of Yang's Secret Coders will like the puzzles and adventure that this diverse cast confronts in Windrose. The house is a fun setting, rather reminiscent of the movie National Treasure at points. This is a graphic novel in full color, so perfect for fantasy fans who like to delve into this format.
Weaknesses: I felt like there were a ton of details missing about Windrose and the Merriweathers that could have been better addressed in a traditional novel.
What I really think: Will purchase, but know that I will have to commit to the whole set, since this ends on a giant cliffhanger.

Hansen, Dustin. My Video Game Ate My Homework
April 21st 2020 by DC Comics
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Dewey struggles in school, but is very creative and can build awesome projects, so he is hoping that a superior volcano model will help him pass science and avoid summer school. When his friend Ferg, who is the principal's son, opens the box with the science fair prize, an Infinity Lens, and breaks it, the boys and their friends Beatrice and Katherine try to fix it. When they do, a portal to another world opens up and sucks Dewey's volcano model into it. The group goes through the portal and turn into video game characters with interesting qualities; Ferg is part bear, Beatrice has bee-like traits, etc. With the help of a magic book, they have adventures involving bone rats, a Glurk, and 8-Bit, a sort of robot with a television for a head. Will the group be able to survive in the virtual world, retrieve Dewey's homework, and make it back to their own world in order to spend the summer at Dewey's father's malt shop?

Strengths: Dustin Hansen has my eternal admiration and gratitude for Game On!, which is absolutely excellent, so I was interested to see what he would do with a graphic novel. This was similar to Cube Kid's 8 Bit Warrior books and the Minecraft novelizations only in that it follows the actions of a video game. The children have a quest, fight monsters and challenges, and have to survive. This is a graphic novel, so there are a lot of elements that I can only imagine appear in actual video games (challenges, medals with powers-- I can't even really describe these, although people who actually play games will immediately recognize them). There are not as many books about video games as my students would like, so this will be immediately popular with fans of Schrieber's Game Over, Pete Watson (2014) and Anderson's Insert Coin to Continue (2016).
Weaknesses: The artwork in this reminded me of 1990s video games, which was probably the intent, but I kept interpolating Katie from Katie's Farm in the action. That's a "me" problem!
What I really think: I'll definitely have to purchase this, but it wasn't quite my flavor of milkshake. (The Frosted Top was my favorite part, but the children didn't spend very long there!)

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