Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Timeslip Tuesday- Saving the World

Welford, Ross. The Dog Who Saved the World
December 22nd 2020 by Schwartz & Wade Books
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Georgie and her friend Ramzy enjoy hanging out in their seaside English town, romping with Georgie's rescue dog, Mr. Mash, who has a gas problem. When her father's girlfriend, Jessica, turns out to be allergic to dogs, Mr. Mash finds himself on the way back to the St. Woof's dog shelter, so Georgie volunteers there so she can still spend time with him. When the dog runs off with an older woman's bathing cap, the two friends meet the strange Dr. Pretorious. She invites the two to meet her at the Spanish City, and they are introduced to her impressive laboratory and her multisensory virtual reality (MSVR) machine! There are a lot of bugs in it (as well as a scorpion), but Dr. Pretorious enlists the two as coconspirators, and the adventure begins. When a dangerous disease, CBE, starts effecting dogs and threatens to kill them all off, Georgie and Ramzy must rely on Dr. Pretorious and her dubious technology in order to save the world. 

Like this author's The 1,000 Year Old Boy (2019), What Not To Do If You Turn Invisible (2018), and Time Traveling with a Hamster (2016), The Dog Who Saved the World incorporates charming English settings, beloved pets, and children who must venture beyond their comfort zones to deal with threatening situations. I love the MSVR, and the fact that it is still a work in progress with which Georgie and Ramzy must assist. Bonus points for not only having the female Dr. Pretorious, but for also having Jessica involved in biology and researching the CBE. 

The thing that I enjoy most about Welford's work is the feeling of adventure. Sure, you may be a little scared to make a time travel machine out of a bathtub and an old laptop, or if you turn invisible, but what an opportunity these situations present for children to venture out of their comfort zones in order to make positive changes in the world. The upbeat attitude in the face of adversity is always refreshing in middle grade stories, especially in speculative fiction, which has a tendency to turn a bit grim. Adding a farting dog goes a long way to brighten things up. 

This was published in England before the COVID-19 pandemic, but has an extra layer of believability now that we have all seen how diseases can spread and have devastating consequences. This is an interesting mix of time travel and dystopia, and there's a growing list of plague dystopian novels to which this can be added, along with Lu's Legend, Chadda's City of the Plague God,  Hirsch's Eleventh Plague, Ford's Z, and  Burt's chillingly relevant Cleo Porter and the Body Electric.

Wilson, S.G. Enough About Me (Me vs. the Multiverse #2) 
August 17th 2021 by Random House Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Meade Macon and all of his alter egos are back after Pleased to Meet Me, where Meade learned how reality splits and new versions of him are created. His arch nemesis, Meticulous Me, is also back. Meade is currently in the County Youth Development Center because of the crime spree that the other Me's went on, but is approached Meticulous, who is on a mission and so conspires to get Meade out. Understandably wary, Meade reluctantly agrees to help when he discovers Meticulous' plan. There is a Rip in the universe that is threatening not only our world, but many others, and Meticulous has a repair he calls the Stitch that he thinks will help before the Rip makes all of the worlds like Earth Zero. The problem? Meade no longer has any "fizz", and None of Me is working against them and must be found. There are lots of complications, including running into Prez, who doesn't seem to be quite on their side, and encountering various versions of Twig and Nash. None of Me turns out to have a surprising identity, and the quest for the Stitch doesn't end there. The Rip is agitated, so even if the crew finds the Rip, they might not be able to use it. How will Meade and Meticulous be able to work together to repair the universe and get all of the various Me's back to their respective worlds?
Strengths: With the science fiction feel of Kirby's The Spell Robbers and the humor (and page decorations) of Seegert's Sci Fi Junior High, Enough About Me pits Meade not against an adult super villain but against... himself, or at least a version of himself. Sure, there are a few adults in the picture, like Meade's Dr. Who loving parents who program his MeMinder to do annoying things like identify good deeds, but this romp to save the world rests squarely in the sometimes slimy hands of the Me's. While saving the world is a serious business, there's lots of fun to be had along the way. It's good to see several of the more prominent Me's learning to work together, and of course, saving the universe is always a good plan. 
Weaknesses: There are a LOT of Me's, and if I thought too hard about why they existed, my brain hurt. 
What I really think: There should be more speculative fiction duologies. One book is not quite enough to completely develop a world and be a digestible size (200-300 pages), but two books of that size work quite well. This seems like Meade's story is wrapped up, so I will be interested to see what early morning jog inspired stories Wilson comes up with next. 

So, a lot of my household furnishings have been retrieved from other people's trash, and I will take hand-me-downs from just about anyone. This is apparently a completely transparent part of my personality that people can sense even if they don't know it for sure. 

Our choir director, a young man a bit older than my daughters, came into the library and said "This is a really weird question, but my mom asked me to drop some of her old clothes off at Goodwill, and I looked at them and thought 'Ms. Yingling would like some of these.' Would you be offended if I brought them to you?"

Of course not, dear boy. Especially when it means a cool jacket like this magenta beauty that I can wear with a black Chaps dress from 2012 and a pin from my friend Linda's 1990s work wardrobe!

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