Tag Archives: Anderson (author)

Zombie Mommy Review

zombie_mommyZombie Mommy (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson; illustrations by Kurt Cyrus

Beach Lane Books, 2011. 978-1416986416

Synopsis: Not wanting any harm to come to her daughter, Mrs. Gefelty decides to take a vacation in Todburg, town of the Undead. She’s very concerned that Lily is going to end up sad and alone without a mother like one of the characters in all those assigned reading books she’s given at school. But upon her return, Lily finds that her mother isn’t actually her mother at all – she’s been possessed by a ghost who yearns to stage a stage and screen comeback that’s  (hundreds) of years overdue! Will Jasper’s new Astounding High-Pressure Holy Water Extruder Gun be enough to extract the ghost? How could Drgnan not realize that he and Katie were going out?! Is Katie’s cousin Madigan Westlake-Duvet part of the problem or part of the solution?

Why I picked it up: I’m enjoying the very serious degree to which this series takes its humor.

Why I finished it: If Agent Q was a spoof on spy novels, Zombie Mommy is a take on horror novels (evidenced at the start of Chapter 23, in which our author/narrator tells the reader this is, in fact, a horror novel. In case we hadn’t picked up on that in the previous 22 chapters.). The hilarity seems to ensue much faster than in the previous books, starting with the awkward conversation Lily and Mrs. Gefelty have about BOOKS and progressing to the rather haphazard journey Mrs. Gefelty takes to Todburg (which involves a lot of narrow escapes, mostly from a rather put-out tarantula). After a possessed Mrs. Gefelty’s return to Pelt, our heroes must go to Todburg themselves in order to investigate what exactly happened, in which more hilarity ensues – this time involving an unfunny comedian, the cast of Warm Bodies, and our same perturbed tarantula. I continue to be amused by the random footnotes and the wall breaks within the text that are likely intended to give the reader clarification, but the good intention is lost and the reader is left with a humorous anecdote instead. One particular gag involves Madigan’s clothing, which must be described in exact detail by a man who may or may not have his shirt on backwards. The action and the anecdotes are well timed, providing a sense of foreboding as well as hope that our heroes can find a way to exorcize the ghost inhabiting Mrs. Gefelty.  Cyrus’s illustrations continue to haunt and amuse the reader, using thick lines to give the art a somewhat gothic feel. Fans of the series will continue to enjoy the further adventures of Lily, Jasper, and Katie as they continue to fight for truth and knowledge…or something like that….

Other related materials: Whales on Stilts! (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; Jasper Dash and the Flame Pits of Delaware (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; Agent Q, or The Smell of Danger! (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; He Laughed With His Other Mouths (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron; Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist books by Jim Benton; Cardboard by Doug TenNapel; The Wild Robot by Peter Brown; Ungifted by Gordon Korman

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Agent Q, or The Smell of Danger! Review

agent_q_or_the_smell_of_dangerAgent Q, or The Smell of Danger! (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson; illustrations by Kurt Cyrus

Beach Lane Books, 2010. 978-1416986409

Synopsis: Now that the monks of Vbngoom have been saved and their monastery relocated (see Jasper Dash and the Flame Pits of Delaware), Lily, Katie, and Jasper are eager to get home. But the Awful and Adorable Autarch of Dagsboro and his agents at the Ministry of Silence have other ideas, and they will do anything to detain both the children and the monks. Including hiding in glove boxes and disguising themselves as furniture in order to apprehend the fugitive travelers!

Why I picked it up: I always enjoy a bit of light reading after a long, arduous week of work.

Why I finished it: It’s been a while since I read Jasper Dash and the Flame Pits of Delaware, so picking up this book had me a little bit lost. I guess I had gotten lucky and picked up the ‘stand-alone’ books in this series (Whales on Stilts!, He Laughed With His Other Mouths), so it wasn’t necessarily important for me to have remembered an entire book. Then again, this is what I get for reading series books out of order. So don’t be like me: read them in order. Okay, PSA over. Turns out it’s just as hard to get out of Delaware as it is to get in, maybe even harder since the Ministry of Silence is always watching you. Except when they lose track of you. Which isn’t often. Because these guys and gals are good. So good there’s even a whole TV series devoted to the best of the best of the Awful and Adorable Autarch of Dagsboro’s spies in which they expose themselves and their dastardly deeds before a live studio audience…of spies! The story is part spy thriller, part after school special, combining the derring-do heroics of an action-packed thriller with the ridiculousness of our favorite Saturday morning cartoons (they still have those, right?). I love that Anderson is able to take the time within the text of the story and in footnotes to give the reader hilarious commentary about some of the more over-the-top elements of the story. There is a bit with sentient lobsters about half-way through the book that the author points out would be totally ridiculous in almost any other story…except this one, in which there are sentient lobsters…that are actually an important bit of the plot. It’s a fun and engaging mystery/thriller that will have readers eager for more of Jasper, Katie, and Lily’s adventures.

Other related materials: Whales on Stilts! (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; Jasper Dash and the Flame Pits of Delaware (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; Zombie Mommy (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; He Laughed With His Other Mouths (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron; Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist books by Jim Benton; Cardboard by Doug TenNapel; The Wild Robot by Peter Brown; Ungifted by Gordon Korman

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Whales on Stilts! Review

whales_on_stiltsWhales on Stilts!: A Pals in Peril Tale by M.T. Anderson; illustrations by Kurt Cyrus

Beach Lane Books, 2010. 978-1442407015

Synopsis: Lily Gefelty thinks it’s more than a little weird that her father works for a company that makes prosthetics for cetaceans. I mean, what do whales need stilts for anyway? But when she realizes her dad’s boss, Larry, is outfitting the whales with laser eyes as well, she knows there’s something even more dastardly going on. Luckily, she has her friends Katie Mulligan and Jasper Dash to help her save the day!

Why I picked it up: I wanted a short read for a weekend trip.

Why I finished it: What I like about this series is that it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously. Our heroes find themselves in improbable situations, but for them these (for the most part) are everyday occurrences. The ridiculousness gives it the feel of a pulp novel while taking the reader on a highly imaginative trip through an alternative version of our own world. I really identified with Lily because I often wanted to hide behind my bangs and pretend I was invisible when I was younger. I know the feeling of not being up to par with my friends, of believing that I’m too ordinary to do the fantastic. But despite Lily’s shyness, she uses her cleverness and wit to be able to come up with a plan to stop Larry and his mind-controlled whale army from taking over the world. She might not have Jasper’s knack for inventing or Katie’s ability to fight off a zombie attack, but her ability to think and act quickly truly makes her a hero. I’d give this book to people who like fast-paced adventure and edge-of-their-seat action – it’s a pretty fast read and keeps up a good pace throughout.

Other related materials: The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson; Jasper Dash and the Flame Pits of Delaware (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson; Agent Q, or The Smell of Danger! (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson; Zombie Mommy (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson; He Laughed With His Other Mouths (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson; The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron; Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist books by Jim Benton; Cardboard by Doug TenNapel; The Wild Robot by Peter Brown; Ungifted by Gordon Korman

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He Laughed With His Other Mouths Review

he-laughed-with-his-other-mouthsHe Laughed With His Other Mouths (A Pals in Perils Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus

Beach Lane Books, 2014. 978-1442451100

Synopsis: Jasper Dash has always lived a comfortable life with his mother, exploring space, creating inventions of the future, and journeying to strange lands with his friends. But there’s something missing in his life; a strong, male presence absent from his existence that has left Jasper to wonder who is father is. Despite his mother’s explanations and warnings, Jasper builds a teleportation device that will take him fifteen light years from Earth, across the galaxy to discover his parentage.

Why I picked it up: It was on a “New Books” display at my library and I don’t think I have enough ‘boy books’ in my repertoire.

Why I finished it: While the story had no shortage of excitement and ray guns, there was a story-within-a-story bit that made it hard to get through. And the other side story wasn’t particularly interesting to boot. What I like about these books is the pure energy and imagination of the characters, and while there was a lot of imagination, I found the energy lagging significantly and that was another factor that made the book easy to put down between chapters. The premise was intriguing, but the execution could have been better. Jasper Dash has always been a boy ahead of his time, but lately he’s been feeling like nothing he does matters, despite what his friends try to do to cheer him up. Plus, he’s always been the kind of boy that listens and obeys his mother. But when she tells him not to use his teleportation booth to find the being that shot a concentrated beam of energy from the Horsehead Nebula that resulted in his conception, Jasper decides that he’s had enough of being good and it’s time that he set out on his own. The reader can totally identify with Jasper’s troubles and the desire to disobey his parent, but there’s something about his character that tells us right from the start that he’s going to do the right thing and there’s something a little bit…boring about it. For all the book’s edge-of-your-seat action, there’s a certain predictability to the story and as a reader, that sort of turns me off. If I know where the story is going, I’m less likely to keep going. But keep going I did, and while the ending wasn’t what I initially expected, I still sorta saw it coming. Anderson is a gifted writer with an impressive body of work, and so much of this book felt lazy. Lazy writing makes for lackluster reading. Additionally, the asides that create the story-within-a-story interrupted the action and might have been better served as an appendix to Jasper’s tale. Much like Jasper’s science fair bust at the beginning of the story, this book fails to deliver the promised mystery and excitement, even if it does have far too many ray guns for its own good.

Other related materials: Whales on Stilts! (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; Jasper Dash and the Flame Pits of Delaware (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; Agent Q, or The Smell of Danger! (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; Zombie Mommy (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; The Norumbegan Quartet books by M.T. Anderson; Percy Jackson and the Olympians books by Rick Riordan; The Heroes of Olympus books by Rick Riordan; Spirit Animals books; Warriors: Dawn of the Clans books by Erin Hunter, illustrations by Wayne McLoughlin

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Jasper Dash and the Flame Pits of Delaware review

Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware by M.T. Anderson, Illustrated by Kurt Cyrus

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

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