A zany take on how Christmas happens aims straight for the middle-grade humor sweet spot.
The year her father moves to North Dakota pursuing an oil job, 12-year-old Bobbie Mendoza decides to ignore Christmas. Before this, Bobbie was a normal girl, but now she oozes ’tude: her favorite color is “black. Black goes with everything. Even me.” Among the other indignities of this year, the family’s inflatable Zombie Santa attacks Bobbie—resulting in a “stupid HOT PINK cast.” Bobbie’s decision to get younger Tad a 3D Mega Machine by any means necessary leads to her abduction by two elves, learning the truth about the evil keeper of the Naughty List, and discovering what Tad really wants for Christmas. Along the way Bobbie meets a less-than-admirable Santa in a North Pole redolent of refried beans, along with equally unconventional reindeer led by antler-sparking Larry (not the other one). The copious illustrations, black-and-white cartoons reminiscent of Fry’s comic strip, “Over the Hedge,” add fun, clarity, and (oddly enough) believability to the text. Despite the female main focus, boys will enjoy the story too. References to butts, farts, and lead reindeer Larry’s incontinence will cause mirth and the occasional guffaw.
Readers of both genders will take to this original and hilarious story—so long as they do not still believe in Santa. (Fantasy. 10-13)
Click HERE to preorder.
From the August issue of SLJ:
Gr 3-7–Much like Jeff Kinney’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books (Abrams), comic strip creator Fry’s latest series entry brings readers a middle school student low on the totem pole, with harebrained schemes that play out through a mix of text and imagery. Lead character and narrator, Nick, also has an astronaut who often appears in his reflective comments, acting like a blend of a conscience and a parent, reminding Nick that his ideas usually look better on paper than in practice. In this installment, Nick and his best friend, Molly, both members of the school’s “Safety Squad” (part hall monitors, part crossing guards), begin to worry about him, but not because Karl owns a talking bird who wears a top hat and spends much of his time talking to sea monkeys. Instead, they worry that a “secret” group, known as MELZ (after their school’s namesake Emily Dickinson) is recruiting him and not them. Nick also worries about state testing; caring for his grandmother after she “breaks her butt” dancing with her boyfriend, the school janitor; and his maybe crush on Molly. The story is a humorous blend of outrageous and believable. The content is young and the text simple, making this most likely a better fit for upper elementary students than for middle school.–Sarah Knutson, American Canyon Middle School, CA
Check out the first four chapters of Odd Squad: King Karl by clicking on the link to the right.
Two weeks ago I screwed up the courage to ask one of my favorite writers and inexplicable Twitter followers, Neil Gaiman (best-selling author of American Gods, Coraline and Newbery Award winner for The Graveyard Book) to read my new book, The Odd Squad: Bully Bait. I sent him a private message. After some back and forth he agreed offering no promises.
On Thursday evening he posted this on his blog:
In other news, my second wedding anniversary last night was fun, except for the food poisoning, which meant that Amanda and I threw up in gutters a lot, and I spent this morning in the ER watching her get a saline drip. We went out for such a fancy anniversary dinner, and it was the most expensive food we’ve ever thrown up. Next year I think we’ll just go somewhere we like.
(I read Michael Fry’s The Odd Squad in the ER, because that was what I had with me. Perfect ER reading while the person down the hall is screaming and the homeless man in the wheelchair has begun to grunt, loudly and incoherently, and your wife is sleeping on a drip beneath the beautiful black Kambriel greatcoat, which seems to have found its person. Funny and sweet with a steely centre.)
My agent and I decided to sit on the news until we could confirm with Neil’s agent that he did indeed intend to describe my book as “funny and sweet with a steely centre” and not his wife. Although I’m sure Amanda Palmer is much funnier, sweeter and steely-er than my book, we were just assured that he was indeed referring to The Odd Squad. Whew!
Anyway, I’m gobsmacked and honored and just all-around ecstatic. I don’t know how much difference it’ll make in sales, but Mr. Gaiman’s praise makes a HUGE difference to me.
Thank you sir.