Friday, March 17, 2023

Guy Friday- Go Pig or Go Home

Harrell, Rob. Batpig: Go Pig or Go Home (BatPig #3)
March 14th 2023 by Dial Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus
BatPig, aka Gary, has forgotten to study for both his science and his US History test, but manages to do okay after he visits a magic shop and gets a powder to sprinkle over his books to help him learn. This also manifests Sharkraham Lincoln, a shark president, who goes to school with him and gets him into some trouble, especially when he holds up a sign with the answer! The magic goes badly wrong, and before long, Gary is animating many of the books he leaves on his desk while he is sleeping, resulting in flying Pop Tarts and also a Squid Clown that decides to eat most of the Yorkshire's apartment building and which takes over Gary's school. As BatPig, he knows he needs to save his classmates, but it's up to Brook and Carl to lead the students through the tunnels under the school. BatPig's ability to save his school from the evil creature may hinge on his ability to recognize when he himself has done something wrong. The rest of the book takes the group of friends to camp Mouldy Snout, where the friends seem to go their separate ways. Carl bonds with a cabin mate, a snake who also suffers from asthma. Brook has some mean girls in her cabin, but also has a bit of a crush on a boy from Gary's group. Gary has to worry about "Grumbles" a sea serpent who seems pretty calm, at least until pork enters its system! When Carl gets some toiletries from one of the mean girls, they wash off him in the lake and start to mutate Grumbles, aka Ruby! Gary has forgotten his BatPig uniform at home, but has to save the day anyway. Of course, when he's done, he has to wipe everyone's memory. To add another twist, his archnemesis is back and has an unexpected connection to another camper, and this appearance means he needs to wip everyone's memory AGAIN. Poor Gary. He needs a sandwhich, and a long nap, when they book is over. 
Strengths: There are so many ways that adults can get goofy wrong. There's a lot of twee stories, tons of books with funny names that make my students roll their eyes, and way too many books that don't properly nuance fart jokes. Harrell gets middle school snark just right. Even the self referential footnotes amused me, and it's well documented that my reading tastes are that of a 12 year old boy. There's digestive upset, but it's used as a plot device, and Ruby does apologize. There are a few timely Life Lessons in the stories as well, but the real draw is the ham balloons and the mind wiping photobooth. Gary reminds me a bit of Stick Dog, in that he always has a good plan, even though his friends don't think he is all that smart. The illustrations are also just right for middle school; cartoon-like, of course, but somehow a little more sophisticated. Harrell's illustrations could almost grace the cover of a Young Adult novel, since those are trending toward this style. It's hard to really describe why Harrell's style is so perfect, but it works. If you haven't investigated this series, it is high time you do so. 
Weaknesses: Aren't brand names like Pop Tarts meant to be avoided? Granted, this information was probably gleaned from reading Writer's Digest in the 1980s, but there were a couple of brand names used, and that seemed odd. (I seem to remember that BandAids and Xerox were to be avoided in favor of bandages and photocopies.)
What I really think: One of our teachers uses Wink as a core novel, so that definitely helps gets students interested in BatPig. He circulates a little better than Ham Helsing, which I thought wsa hysterical, but requires a little more esoteric knowledge to get some of the references. I do enjoy BatPig, but am also okay if Harrell wants to turn his talents to writing a graphic novel with human main characters and perhaps sports! 

Ms. Yingling

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