This week Good Reads — an honorary 12-year-old! — makes a beeline for the new Lemony Snicket. This book is so secret, the library should not even have a copy. BUT WE DO.
This inaugural book in a series collectively titled All The Wrong Questions is a biography of the boy Snicket himself, beginning with his escape out a restaurant bathroom window from a mom and a dad who are not, in fact, his parents. “The distance grew so vast that even the longest-tongued bat in the world could not lick the life I was leaving behind,” writes Snicket, poetically, in the first volume of an indeterminate number, two words which here mean four.
The top secret, we-shouldn’t-be-telling-you-this name of the book is Who Could That Be At This Hour? (2012). It is a book Filled With All TheWrong Questions.
Snicket’s daring escape follows the instructions of his new teacher, S. Theodora. She is, however, a rather terrible chaperone who scolds far too much and constantly must be rescued by her apprentice, a word which here means someone much, much smarter than she is.
This is a surreal story of petrified octopi, betrayal, secret missions gone wrong, and dusty peanuts you really shouldn’t be eating. It is highly recommended for all 12-year-olds, regardless of age.
Snicket is well-known for his previous opus, an umpty-zillion-volume family saga titled A Series Of Unfortunate Events. Those books should be avoided at all cost, however, as they are quite horrible. Please do not read them. (Really, the library should throw them all away — I just don’t know what they’re thinking.)
Who Could That Be At This Hour? is filed in the New Arrivals section of the Lennoxville Library, which this month features a genuine cornucopia of fiction aimed at readers aged 9 to 12 (that is, filed with an orange dot).
Jasper John Dooley is a bit younger than Lemony when his call to fame taps him on the shoulder. Jasper John Dooley: Star Of The Week (by Caroline Adderson, 2012) is, yes, Star of the Week in his elementary school class. This means, for example, that he gets to show off his impressive lint collection to his classmates. Please note that belly button lint is the hardest to collect (thankfully, his dad helps with this difficult task, though dad is asleep while helping — one must scoop very carefully).
This is the story of one week in the eccentric Master Dooley’s life, in which he asks, “Is dryer lint like the ghosts of all the clothes you ever wore?”
It’s also a complicated seven days. He’s an only child and wants a brother. For some reason, his parents don’t like this idea. But Jasper John is stubborn and decides to fix the problem — and he does. Star Of The Week is the first volume in a series.
Last but not least, Philip Pullman’s chronicles of the kid detectives, the New Cut Gang, is on the shelves. Pullman’s fantastic and fantastical first book in the His Dark Materials series (The Golden Compass) was aimed at slightly older readers (the heroine is 10), but the youngest member in this unruly group is six. (That’s Sharky, and he’ll eat anything.) There’s also the redheaded and practical Bridie, the twins (both are girls), Thunderbolt (a boy whose glasses are always caked in dirt), and 11-year-old Benny Kaminsky, the genius (kind of) and leader (maybe).
These children, living a life of poverty in late 1800s England, are contemporaries of the great detective, Sexton Blake. Sadly, every time Benny K has an extra spot of time to pop over to Baker Street to introduce himself, the Halfpenny Marvel magazine reports that Mr. Blake has been kidnapped, or is out of town on a case.
Two Crafty Criminals! And How They Were Captured By The Daring Detectives Of The New Cut Gang (published in 2012) is actually two shorts, previously published, brought together in hardcover. Thunderbolt’s Waxwork shows how helpful these boys and girls want to be, capturing criminals and helping out the neighbours. The New Cut Gang takes on counterfeiters, while also deciding to right a wrong. Hot chestnut seller Dippy is a local landmark, and darned if he should not be included in the wax museum, wot.
The Gas-Fitters’ Ball follows the tragic tale of Dick, who’s too shy to propose marriage to Daisy. The gang decides to help. After all, what could go wrong? Meanwhile, someone has stolen a small fortune in antique silver from the gas-fitters’ guild, and the constabulary seems hard-pressed to find the thief. It’s the New Cut Gang to the rescue!
There’s a glossary of Brit talk and of tough vocabulary, too. Good Reads had to look up heliograph (“a device for signaling coded messages with a mirror”). And with that bit of light in your eyes, have a good week reading!
– Eleanor Brown, Jan. 11, 2013