Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Funky Monkeys

Time for me to make up for lost time and load you up with some reviews. Expect several over the next few days. Yay, book reviews!

“Brass Monkeys”

By Terry Caszatt
For Ages 9 – 12
Think Jake Ransom, Alice in Wonderland, and Phantom Tollbooth all rolled into one. This school fantasy, adventure is a fun and strange trip that makes a great summer read. Rated 4 (fantasy, evil teachers, mild peril)

After being forced to transfer schools; Eugene, an awkward, eighth-grade boy and his mom move to a northern Michigan town in the middle of winter. Strange things begin happening as soon as they arrive in town. Several local kids take Eugene into their ranks, especially after they discover his nickname is Billy Bumpus. Evidently they had been given a message that “B.B.” was coming to town to save the school and all the students. Weird, huh? And things got even weirder on the first day of school. Then he meets his English teacher, Ms. “Ming the Merciless” Mingley – that's right, even weirder. Using a favorite tool of children’s literature, things really get moving when Eugene enters another world; an underworld. He begins and epic journey to save his fellow students and find McGinty, a legendary teacher who can stop Ming in her tracks.

The action is non-stop, the characters are believable and Caszatt develops the underworld of literary allusions and unused school supplies without error. He subtly makes a comment about poor teachers and the misguided education system sucking the life out of students. But he also shows how a few inspired teachers can make all the difference in the world. This is a page turner of a book that even reluctant readers won’t want to put it down until the story is over.

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