Beach Lane Books, 2009. 978-1-41698-639-3
Synopsis: Jasper Dash, Boy Technonaut, and his friends Kate Mulligan and Lily Gefelty are getting ready for a Stare-Eyes match against an undefeated Delaware team when they sense evil is afoot. Kate leaves the match to see the Delaware Team Mom peddling stolen artifacts from the monastery of Vbngoom, Platter of Heaven, which is supposed to be unfindable by mortals. Meanwhile, in the middle of a match, Jasper receives a telepathic cry for help from his monk friend Drgnan Pghlik asking for help. Thus, the three must journey into the mysterious, forbidden, time-forgotten land of Delaware to rescue the monks and return their stolen treasures.
Why I picked it up: I found it on the Kirkus Reviews website and the title grabbed me.
Why I finished it: This is the third volume in the Pals in Peril Tales series, but having read the first two volumes in no way influences how much one enjoys this book. It is a wacky mix of mystery, adventure, science fiction, and humor that can only be described as a much more madcap version of Indiana Jones. The entire novel is a very tongue-in-cheek commentary on the supposed existence of Delaware and the ridiculous assumption that not only does the state have mountains, but the people have developed their own language devoid of vowels, their own customs, and live under the rule of a man whose image is to be cuddled by the citizens (my apologies to the State of Delaware). One of the more humorous moments is when they discover Drgnan has been locked in the board games and tiger closet…with the board games and the tiger. The anonymous narrator appears somewhat bored and is rather inept at describing sporting matches (but then again, how does one make starting contests as exciting as a tennis match) and has great fun making fun of gangsters and guidebooks, among other things. Absurdity aside, the book also delivers a message of acceptance, friendship, and the importance of sticking together that seems to be a hallmark of young teen literature. Relying on your friends and their abilities certainly makes adventures more fun, mysteries somewhat less mysterious, and realize that there probably is no such thing as normal.
Other related materials: Whales on Stilts! by M.T. Anderson; The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen by M.T. Anderson; Agent Q, or The Smell of Danger! by M.T. Anderson; Zombie Mommy by M.T. Anderson; One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia; Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi; Zombie Haiku: Good Poetry for Your…Brains by Ryan Mecum; The Norumbegan Quartet by M.T. Anderson; The Secret series by Pseudonymous Bosch; Maximum Ride books by James Patterson; The Secret Science Alliance books by Eleanor Davis