five fast ones

Fly Guy Meets Fly Girl by Tedd Arnold

The first Fly Guy book was on the Monarch List a few years ago, so I’m well aware that the character is popular with kids. This addition to the series seems to be more of the same, which means it’s well-written and illustrated and kids will read it. As you can guess, Fly Guy meets a Fly Girl. Sparks fly (HA!) for a bit, until each fly realizes that being in love means leaving their best child friend. Not particularly exceptional, but hand it to fans of the series.

Funny Lunch (Max Spaniel) by David Catrow

This book bothers me. I personally enjoy David Catrow’s art immensely, and his books are always big hits with kids. I just don’t find that this title is particularly suited to the needs of a kid who is just learning how to read. The art and text, while both humorous and engaging, do not complement each other all that well; meaning that a child struggling to decode a sentence would not really find any help in the accompanying picture. I think the Max Spaniel books would have been much better as a picture book series to allow room for the art to really breathe. Again, an enjoyable title, but not an outstanding example of the genre.

Alien Alby by Kaye Umansky

This book has a lot of made-up words in it (Groobleblaster, Splattermerang, Zoomeroo) that I didn’t find particularly amusing, but maybe that’s because I’m an old curmudgeonly fart, or I’ve been spoiled by words like chortle and Jabberwocky. Anyway, it seemed to me that a lot of the word choices in this book would be hard for beginning readers to decode. Further, the story didn’t grab me (something about Alby’s pet being bad and put into a cage, and Alby then sold all of his toys to buy a new rug) and I don’t know if it would grab any kids, either, unless they were really into aliens. An okay book.

Yeti Spaghetti by Samantha Hay

My first thought upon opening this book was, “These illustrations look exactly like Quentin Blake illustrations!” See for yourself: Mark Beech’s art. Quentin Blake’s art. Startling, no?

The story is about a boy who wants to be a chef, and how the town cooking contest is disrupted by Yetis. There is a yodeler that yodels the Yetis away, but one comes back on the cooking contest day with a saucepan full of spaghetti. I found it so boring that I can’t even finish typing a summary. There are eleven sentences that end in ellipses, which really bothered me for some reason. Also, there are tons of  adverbs in this book, telling us how characters spoke, which is sloppy. If you follow Stephen King’s edict to treat adverbs like $100 bills, there are$1000 worth of adverbs in this book! Not recommended.

Gilbert, the Surfer Dude by Diane DeGroat

Gilbert  goes surfing and loses his shorts. Ha, ha. Apparently this is a “high-interest” story. Maybe for some kids? Nothing special here, nor particularly well-done.

All reviewed from library copies. All opinions are my own and not those of the Cybils panel.

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