Saturday, August 11, 2007

Good goth

Don't get your hopes up, it's just a book review.

I don't like giving bad reviews. The authors always show up and make me feel ashamed of myself. For this reason, I have abstained from reviewing The Flown Sky by Matthew Olshan, the Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, and Drita, My Homegirl by Jenny Lombard.

So, while I don't have too many nice things to say about the Edgar & Ellen series by Charles Ogden, I am going to mitigate my negativity by mentioning a few similar series of books that I liked quite a bit: Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist by Jim Benton, Pure Dead Magic by Debi Gliori, and Secrets of Dripping Fang by Dan Greenburg (reviewed earlier).

These are your inverted-viewpoint books, the books in which the good-looking, friendly characters are simps and the pale mean creepy kids are the protagonists. Think Roald Dahl, kinda.

Frantastic Voyage: Franny K Stein, Mad Scientist book 5, by Jim Benton. Ages 6-10.
Aww, a kid's first evil genius series... can there be anything so cute? Franny, and her yen for world domination, has something of a Nickelodeon look and feel. She (and her not-so-bright sidekick dog, Igor) put me in mind of Pinky and the Brain, and you know that's not a bad thing. Thumbs up.

Secrets of Dripping Fang by Dan Greenburg. Ages 7-10.
Mystery, adventure, family values, monsters. Already approved this vivid and fun series.

Pure Dead Magic, by Debi Gliori. Ages 7 to 11.
In the Pure Dead Magic books, we have Titus and Pandora and their baby sister Damp (good name for a baby). They live an ordinary life with their mother the witch, their grandmother the frozen corpse, pet rats, etc. Then they solve a mystery. It's funny, the details are imaginative, the kids snipe at each other good-naturedly. Thumbs up.

Rare Beasts by Charles Ogden. Ages 7 to 11.
Edgar & Ellen? God, man, you don't realize what a job it must be writing perverse-and-eccentric for kids until you see one that just misses the mark. Edgar and Ellen are twins who live alone in a big creepy house. In the first book of the series, Rare Beasts, they grow tired of threatening each other's life for fun and hatch a money-making scheme involving exotic animals. They steal all the pets in the town, disguise them with fake horns and glitter, and try to sell them, with no success. It's just a horrible book. The kids are not glamorously goth, nor are they smart or even particularly inventive, the details do not sing (although the children do, dreary little threatening songs), and in fact, you are meant to be rooting against them. That's hard to write, and in this case, I'd say it's not worth the effort.

In other news, I have to buy a dress, as the sundress I was going to wear to my brother's wedding will not work in the 60-degree weather that the Strait of Juan de Fuca is currently experiencing.

Juan de Fuca. Heh heh.