Monday, September 12, 2005

Whales on Stilts

Whales on Stilts by M.T. Anderson, 2005

I so admire a great opening:

On Career Day Lily visited her dad's work with him and discovered he worked for a mad scientist who wanted to rule the earth through destruction and desolation. Up until then life hadn't been very interesting for Lily.

Lily Gefelty is the only one who seems to understand that her father's weird boss, Larry is planning to take over the world using whales on stilts with lasers in their eyes. She is helped by her friend Katie Mulligan, a Nancy Drew/Buffy type whose real life adventures are serialized in Horror Hollow Books (Goosebumps/Fear Street) and Jasper Dash, Boy Technonaut (Tom Swift à la Orphan Annie selling Ovaltine, only here it is Gargletine) who sports vintage clothing and turns of phrase from a bygone era.

In the great tradition of children's books, the parents are hilariously clueless. Her father does not think it odd that Larry, the boss, wears a sack over his features, dumps green brine over his head and openly admits his plan for world domination might interfere with the Gefelty family vacation plans.

The story is over-the-top fun, bizarre, strange yet traditional and conventional with behind the scenes publishing humor...

Since this blog is most interested in the books that kids think are the "good" books I wonder what my reading friends will make of this novel. I can usually get a feeling about a book's reception with young readers but in truth I'm still pondering this one.

I must page my niece and get her input.

Just in time to help me out, Cynsations has an interview with M.T. Anderson about his book Whales on Stilts. She has some great links at the end of the interview.

As usual, I benefit from hearing the author's voice. Listen through the end when Anderson has to cut short his recording session and flee.

Aside: M.T. Anderson's Handel Who Knew What He Liked is a favorite with school music teachers.

1 comment:

Chris Barton said...

Anderson really has a way with opening lines -- Feed begins, as I recall, with "We went to the moon to have fun but the moon turned out to totally suck."