Stinky Cecil in Terrarium Terror! by Paige Braddock
Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2016. 978-1449471866
Synopsis: Cecil is trying to soak up some sun when he is toad-napped by a third grader and transplanted into a classroom terrarium. Life in the terrarium isn’t so bad – free food, time to rest – but Nesbit the chameleon won’t leave him alone. Meanwhile, his friends at the pond have mounted a full-scale rescue operation, courtesy of Jeff the Hamster’s remote controlled helicopter. Will Cecil be freed by his friends or will he have to live out his life with Nesbit the copycat?
Why I picked it up: I enjoyed the first book so much, I was eager to read about the further adventures of Cecil and his pals.
Why I finished it: This story is part comedy, part environmental tale. The story begins with Cecil rescuing a fellow pond dweller from a rogue water bottle tossed out of a car by a careless litterbug. It’s one of many subtle moments throughout the book where Braddock is making commentary about how humans care for the world around them. Knowing and understanding animals and their environments can help make sure that the natural habitats we find so visually stimulating can be enjoyed for many more years to come. I sympathized with Cecil and his struggle with Nesbit the chameleon: we can see that the chameleon admires Cecil and wants to be around him, but readers can also sense the tension in the terrarium. Personally, I think the disembodied garter snake is the one suffering the most…. The rescue attempt by Cecil’s friends adds a sort of fantasy aspect to the story. It’s somewhat improbable that a remote controlled helicopter could operate without the remote, nor do I think the toy came with headsets, but it’s fun, funny, and imaginative. There’s some cool bonus pages at the end of the book about the new characters/creatures we meet in the story and a how-to about building your own terrarium. Braddock studied for a while under the great Charles M. Schulz (Peanuts comics) and his influence on her art can be seen in the designs for the human characters. Braddock’s attention to detail helps truly bring the characters and their environment to life. It’s a fresh, funny scientific adventure that will engage readers of all ages.
Other related materials: Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue by Paige Braddock; The Secret Science Alliance books by Eleanor Davis; Alien Invasion in My Backyard: An EMU Club Adventure by Ruben Bolling; Ghostly Thief of Time: An EMU Club Adventure by Ruben Bolling; Big Nate books by Lincoln Peirce; Desmond Pucket Makes Monster Magic by Mark Tatulli; Desmond Pucket and the Mountain Full of Monsters by Mark Tatulli; Desmond Pucket and the Cloverfield Junior High Carnival of Horrors by Mark Tatulli; Snoopy: Cowabunga!: A Peanuts Collection by Charles M. Schulz; Charlie Brown and Friends: A Peanuts Collection by Charles M. Schulz; Knights of the Lunch Table books by Frank Cammuso; Heavenly Nostrils Chronicle books by Dana Simpson; The G-Man Super Journal books by Chris Giarrusso; Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi; Zita the Spacegirl books by Ben Hatke