Thursday, April 15, 2010

It's Cool

Summer vacation is cool even if the weather is hot and the humidty makes everything sticky. I've spent time in dry heat too. It's not much better. So swealtering heat is not cool, but summer vacation is. Confidence is cool. Inventions can be cool. Imagination is cool. And opening a brand new book is definitely cool... at least to me. So when I saw this new book, "Mac Slater Hunts the Cool" I thought, "this could be cool."

"Mac Slater Hunts the Cool"
By Tristan Bancks
For Ages 8 - 12
A quick-paced story about imagination, being yourself, and questioning what is cool, "Mac Slater Hunts the Cool" is entertaining and interesting. Unfortunately it lacks depth and misses the chance to be great. Rated 3.5 (dangerous stunts, cliques, mild bullying)

Mac Slater has never thought of himself as cool. He lives in an old bus next to the artists' village in Kings Bay, Australia. His mother is a diehard hippie and his father is a protester. His best friend Paul is an outcast as well, but together they work well. They both like to invent - currently it is a flying bike. So it strikes both Mac and Paul as odd when some hip young corporate types offer Mac a chance to hunt cool things, film them, and post the videos on the Coolhunters website. Only one catch. Mac has to compete with the "it" girl fashionista, Cat, to see who will get the gig and a chance to fly to New York.

The story questions what "cool" is and where you can find it. This is a pretty good idea and it provides for some fun adventures and plenty of humor. The story briefly explores class structure in high school, from geeks to jocks, but it balks at the chance to delve deeper into teen psyches. "Mac Slater Hunts for Cool," is a quick paced story about friendship and imagination. It's about being yourself and happy with whoever that is. That's cool.

Tristan Banks' background in acting and filmmaking comes through in the pacing and structure of "Mac Slater Hunts the Cool." It sort of reads like a movie. Unfortunately it reads like a mediocre movie with no real depth. On the surface it is enteratining and fun. It's light and humorous, but it misses too many opportunities to be a great book. Not cool.

If your kids want to read something fun and interesting, this story is cool. This is a planned series so maybe Bancks will explore more depth as the story continues, but don't expect more from "Mac Slater Hunts the Cool" than what is on the surface.

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