I know it's a losing battle, keeping the place in some kind of tidy shape, and it's certainly not all the fault of my kids. The books, lord the books. But sometimes I am just in a GET IT ALL OUT OF HERE mood, and such is the mood that descended tonight.
I haven't had the time to read hardly anything lately, so as we picked up books and shelved them or put them in the Back to the Library bag, I got Milo (11) and Ezra (nearly 10) to talk about the books they've read.
Ezra: Battle Bunny is the result of a ten year old who just watched a whole lot of apocalypse movies making his mark on a cute little Birthday Bunny tale. It's terrifically funny - there's a picture on Battle Bunny's wall that shows a bunny mama leaning over a bunny baby and the ten-year-old added the words "Drink your poison."
I will have a WHOLE LOT to say about Battle Bunny as its publication date approaches. It is... sharp. Daring. Extendable. It is either going to spawn a whole new product line/curriculum/dessert topping or it is going to be denied! Castigated! Denounced, even. Capsized, defenestrated, castrated!
(That's not going to happen. Everybody loves Jon and Mac too much. Even if people do not approve of the formal mechanism that makes this book SO FRICKIN GREAT, nobody's going to get castrated.)
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen, illustrations by the great and mighty Faith Erin Hicks
Milo: This graphic novel is ok. The cheerleaders are trying to get new uniforms and the robotics team are trying to get to the national robotics competition. Since they're competing for the same funds, the student council has to decide. So they both field a candidate for student council, and come up with all kinds of crazy campaign strategies. After neither gets the funding, they team up to get the money they both need by winning the Robot Rumble - a fight to the death between robots.
The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths, illustrations by Terry Denton
Ezra: An author and an illustrator who have great senses of humor, an epic treehouse with 13 stories, a marshmallow machine, a lemonade fountain, and a whole bunch of faulty sea monkeys make up a really awesome book.
Terry and Andy (which are also the names of the author and the illustrator) are two kids who live in this fantastic treehouse, and then they have adventures with like a giant gorilla and a sea monster pretending to be a mermaid and a cat that gets painted yellow. So, like, supernatural, but not like werewolves supernatural.
NB: Attention must be paid, as my friend Anna points out, to the intricate, marvelous drawing of the treehouse on this book's endpapers. I fully expect kids to be inspired to start drawing their dream treehouses - as Anna did when she was a kid and as I and my friends did when we were, uh, about 27.
Milo: On the Day I Died by Candace Fleming is several different stories from Beyond the Grave. Most of the stories aren't scary at all, but one of them would give you nightmares, and the last few are a little bit scary. Every single one of the stories is about a teen who died, and it's told by the kid who died. Some of the stories are kind of stereotype stories, like 'this is a monster story,' 'this is about an insane asylum.' Others are very fun - not funny, but fun.
Some books that were in these piles are old favorites. My kids read kind of a lot of new books, but they do not neglect that middle-grade trait of reading the same five books over and over again. Ezra has been re-reading Bone and Runaways and I got him to put them away. The Wimpy Kid and Percy Jackson books were buried in these piles too.
They had out the original Mouse Guard books, I assume because we got a copy of Mouse Guard: The Black Axe on Netgalley and they wanted to refresh. Milo re-read Evil Genius and Airborn recently, so we had to re-shelve those. I'm with him - I love Airborn and I'll read it over and over.
The Reluctant Assassin (W.A.R.P.) by Eoin Colfer
Milo: I liked this. The characters I loved, just like in Artemis Fowl. The story I think feels like a setup book for a whole new series, which I'm looking forward to. Anybody who liked Artemis Fowl will feel the same way.
NB: "Milo, what's it about?" "Does it matter? It's by Eoin Colfer!" "Yeah, you're right. I read his grownup book about the loser with the hairplugs and I can't wait for the sequel!"
Milo: The Expeditioners and the Treasure of Drowned Man's Canyon by S.S. Taylor is another good new series. It's about a futuristic thing where they've discovered whole new continents. These are children exploring a canyon in Arizona which their dead father has left a map of for them. Then they find another map left by their father. I think this could go on to be a very, very long series, and I really liked it.
Milo: The Lightning Catcher by Anne Cameron is about a kid, Angus McFangus, who is training to be a lightning catcher, which is a Thing in this book. Lightning catchers experiment with dangerous weather, trying to find out what causes it and and how to stop it. Like Twister, but with more crazy gizmos and less reality. It's ok. It would appeal to people who liked Janitors or maybe Savvy. It's got kind of a similar tone as Savvy. A few things are a little bit funny.
Bad Unicorn by Platte F. Clark
Ezra: An evil unicorn named Princess (who happens to be a princess) embarks on a journey to wipe out the human race. Her adversary is Max, a twelve-year-old human who is an unknowing wizard. Max teleports himself and his friends Dirk and Sarah into a different time, one in which humankind has already been destroyed. There, they fight the evil unicorn.
I want to say it was funny, but I don't think that was the real point of the book, to be a funny book. I think it was more an action and adventure book. I liked Bad Unicorn and I'd like to read more about the Magrus, because that was an awesome world just waiting to be described. If you hate cute little pony childhood type books, you'll like this one.
Milo: VERY EXCELLENT.
NB: Thank me later (this has nothing to do with Platte F. Clark, I just need to watch it every couple months or so):
Milo: Icons by Margaret Stohl is about when the alien lords came. They set down thirteen icons that control electric pulses, including the neuro thingies that go to your brain. The aliens are really mysterious, they're using humans for labor to build the mysterious "Project."
There were four children born who had the power to resist the icons' power, and each of them had an additional power. They gang up and resist the aliens. This is the first book. It's a cool concept, but I thought the pace was slow. It was like The Drowned Vault that way, good story, but too slow.
Freaks by Kieran Larwood
Ezra: A band of circus freaks: Sheba the Wolf Girl, Monkey Boy, Sister Moon the Ninja, Gigantus the Strongman, and Mama Rat the, uh, rat... circus... woman investigate the "murders" of Mudlarks (the London street children who sort through the mud of the Thames looking for valuables). It's a mystery that is also funny, especially Monkey Boy, who behaves like a monkey that only knows insulting words. He also throws poo.
Milo: So. The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy is about Prince Charming - all four of them. Each of them has lost his princess in one way or another and they go to terrible lengths - fighting a witch, a giant and a dragon - to get the princesses back. Each prince has different strengths. It's a fun book, you can definitely get a laugh out of it. I like the characters and their characteristics. It's just a good story and I like it. It looks thick but it goes really fast. People who like the movie Hoodwinked would like this.
Ezra: I loved Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff! It's an amazingly funny book in which pixies show their gold-loving and sort of twisted nature. Like a lot of books that deal with magic, it shows that magic has consequences.
Rump is Rumplestiltskin, and he's the main character and a good guy. He is also very troubled, because everybody thinks his name is Rump, and that can't be easy to live with. In his world, names have power, and since he only has a little bit of his very long name, he is only that tiny bit of himself. So the book is about him finding his name.
The Awesome, Almost 100% True Adventures of Matt & Craz by Alan Silberberg
Milo: Matt and Craz are excellent cartoonists but the evil editor of their school newspaper keeps denying them. So Matt, who is the artist, decides he needs a better pen, so he looks for artists' pens online and ends up with a MAGIC PEN. Anything he draws and then photocopies comes to life.
So the evil editor's friend steals the pen and does dastardly deeds which Matt and Craz then have to fix. The characters didn't feel like real kids, but it was funny and the story was goofy. I think a third or fourth grader would like this more than I did.
Pantalones, TX: Don't Chicken Out by Yehudi Mercado
Ezra: This was a funny book, but the main character, Chico Bustamante, wasn't very likable. He was full of himself, and that irritates me. The other characters are good, but they kind of bowed down to Chico and stuff.
Milo: I thought it was very funny. Yes, Chico is full of himself, but he's funny, so I say Who cares?
Whew! We got that coffee table down to the bare wood in a few places. The biggest pile, I'm ashamed to say, is the Mommy Pile. And I couldn't talk Ezra into shelving Bone.