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Alex and the Ironic Gentleman Paperback – August 19, 2008

31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"I read Alex and the Ironic Gentleman, and to be honest it had me at the title. A clever title to live up to and the story did not disappoint. I found it quirky, hilarious and genuinely exhilirating. There was a nod to Lewis Carroll and a wink to Charles Dickens, but no more than that, Adrienne's words are packed with originality. Alex is a wonderful hero who deserves to return for further adventures, indeed I suspect there will be a riot if she does not. Great plot, larger than life characters. The future is bright." -- Eoin Colfer, Best-selling Author of the Artemis Fowl Series

"This is a swashbuckling tale of adventure and loyalty in the tradition of The Princess Bride and Harry Potter." -- Michelle Branch, Editor

Starred Review.
Kress's debut is a wonderful blend of whimsy and moral, with winks at the reader on every page. Alex, who lives with her uncle in the flat above their doorknob shop, is dreading the sixth grade and the stern teacher who comes with it, but on the first day she learns that a new teacher has been installed - the young Mr. Underwood ("a marvelous teacher despite being ever so distinctly odd"). He turns out to be a descendant of a famous pirate, and soon three vicious men turn up in town, looking for a map to a fabled family treasure. The map is somewhere in a stately manor house, run by the vicious old ladies of the Daughters of the Founding Fathers' Preservation Society; Alex finds the map and escapes, but returns home to find that her uncle has been killed and Mr. Underwood has been kidnapped by the pirates of the shop Ironic Gentleman. She sets off to find him and has some odd encounters along the way (at one point, she meets an enormous octopus, distraught over how computer animation has wrecked his movie career). Eventually, Alex ends up on the Ironic Gentleman, face to face with the dreaded Captain Steele the Inevitable, whose identity comes as a big surprise. Kress has a delightfully simple, observational prose style that recalls A.A. Milne, right down to the frequent capitalization of Good Things and Very Interesting Things and so on. This inspired book should hold up to many re-readings. Ages 10-up. -- Publishers Weekly, September 2007 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Adrienne Kress is a graduate of the University of Toronto and has studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. Her work has been performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, among other venues in Canada and the UK. Following in her family tradition, Adrienne has also been a drama teacher, focusing on eight-to-twelve year olds. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 and up
  • Grade Level: 4 and up
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Weinstein Books; Reprint edition (August 19, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602860254
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602860254
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,197,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

"With a crisp, engaging voice and sharp wit, Adrienne Kress is always a treat to read." - Kelley Armstrong, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

Adrienne Kress is a Toronto-born actor and author who loves to play make-believe. She also loves hot chocolate. And cheese. Not necessarily together.

She is the author of the award winning and internationally published childrens novels ALEX AND THE IRONIC GENTLEMAN and TIMOTHY AND THE DRAGON'S GATE (Scholastic). Published around the world, ALEX won the Heart of Hawick Children's Book Award in the UK and was shortlisted for the Red Cedar. The sequel, TIMOTHY, was shortlisted for the Audie, Red Cedar and Manitoba Young Readers Choice Awards, and was optioned for film.

She has also published two YA novels: OUTCAST (Diversion Books), her quirky paranormal romance, and the Steampunk adventure THE FRIDAY SOCIETY (Penguin), released to a starred review from Quill and Quire and was shortlisted for The Quill Awards.

Next year (2016) she will be releasing two children's novels, each the first in an upcoming series: THE EXPLORERS CLUB published by Random House, and HATTER MADIGAN: GHOST IN THE H.A.T.B.O.X., the latter an exciting collaboration with NY Times bestselling author Frank Beddor (set in the same world as his Looking Glass Wars YA books).

And later this year her essay will appear alongside work by the likes of Margaret Atwood and Mariko Tamaki in the non-fiction anthology THE SECRET LOVES OF GEEK GIRLS (Bedside Press).

Adrienne is also an actor with an honours BA in theatre from the University of Toronto and is a graduate of LAMDA's post-graduate classical acting programme in the UK. Some of her recent theatre roles include Connie in COME BLOW YOUR HORN (Classic Theatre Festival), First Lady in A MASKED BALL (Canadian Opera Company), Alisa in SWOON! (, Ellie Powers in DUEL OF AGES (True Edge Productions), and Lady Capulet in ROMEO AND JULIET (Tempest Theatre Group). She can also be seen in the horror flicks THE DEVIL'S MILE (Grover's Mill) and WOLVES (directed by David Hayter), and the SyFy show, LOST GIRL.

Her website

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Richards HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is sure to be a hit with fans of A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Artemis Fowl and Children Of The Lamp. Imaginative and funny, action packed and exciting, this is a book that any child (and some adults) would want to read again and again.

Alex is an orphan, her parents having been involved in a tragic spelunking incident in Iceland. She lives with her Uncle, who owns a doorknob store on the side of a bridge, and she attends a fancy-schmancy school called The Wigpowder-Steele Academy.

It seems that the original Wigpowder was a very wealthy pirate, who entrusted the distribution of his spoils to a rich philanthropist named Steele by way of a treasure map. Over time, bitter family feuds and fencing duels, the location of the map was forgotten and new generations of Wigpowders and Steeles are still quite busy hunting for it. Sure enough, some very unpleasant gentlemen soon arrive in town, and before long the trouble begins.

The next chapters follow Alex on dangerous missions, including encounters with the dastardly Daughters of the Founding Fathers' Preservation Society, a train ride to nowhere in particular, and a hotel very much like the Hotel California (you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Alice Loweecey on September 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Reading Adrienne Kress' Alex and the Ironic Gentleman is like plunging back into childhood. Like the first time I read
The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Puffin Novels).

This is not hyperbole. Kress' narrative voice pulled me in and made me feel like I was riding next to Alex on her bike through the forest, dancing the Charleston on a mysterious train, and always, always searching for her missing teacher, Mr. Underwood. (That's Alex as in Alexandra, in case anyone is puzzled.) Kress' villains are creepy and just a little bit buffoonish, perfect for a Middle Grade book. Her pirates (Of course there are pirates. And sword fighting. And buried treasure.) are definitely not the good guys. The true heroes in this book are the unexpected ones.

On her quest to rescue Mr. Underwood, Alex's adventures run the gamut of "eww, gross!" to despair to excitement to joy. How gross? Locked in an old mansion and forced to give foot rubs to sinister old ladies who all have damp, smelly, squishy feet. How joyous? Sorry. I won't spoil the swashbuckling climax.

Alex is a modern girl in a modern world. One of the pirates uses a laptop to chronicle their history. The police station has a standard two-way mirror. And Alex attempts to convince one character that being a movie star is a good career move. Kress weaves sparkling fantasy seamlessly into this contemporary setting: the reluctant actor just happens to be the Extremely Ginormous Octopus. And every time Giggles the cat gave Alex a dirty look, I expected him to start talking..

Not much makes me feel like a kid again. Alex and the Ironic Gentleman did it by page five. Like one of those old movie trailers, I laughed, I cried, I wanted more.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia Cooper on March 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Generally I don't find it to be a good sign when you could take fully half of a book, shuffle the chapters around in random order, and end up with it making as much sense as the original. There's no real plot progression to speak of -- just a beginning, an ending, and a lot of padding in the middle.

I actually see a lot of elements of other children's books here. We have irritating villains making repeated appearances as though as a punchline, as in A Series of Unfortunate Events, but the Daughters aren't nearly as interesting as Count Olaf (or, in fact, interesting at all). We have some moments of Terry Pratchett-ish deconstruction, but they fall flat when so much else in the book is played with dire seriousness. And we have a by-the-numbers heroine who, after a very promising introduction, becomes interchangeable except for her (unimportant) gender with the hero of any boys' adventure novel.

I'm not sure what all the raves are about. This is really just a mediocre entry in an overpopulated genre.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K. Roman VINE VOICE on October 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Many books for children have the same cast of characters and little twists to the story. ALEX AND THE IRONIC GENTLEMAN is really original. At times I found myself wondering where is this train headed. Alex is a strong female lead, but readers can easily forget whether Alex is a girl or a boy. This novel is worth reading just for the imaginative supporting characters. Action, mystery, strangers, pirates, what's not to love. Karen Woodworth-Roman, [...]
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amelia Dyckman on November 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
LOVED this one! Perfectly balanced, incredibly witty, packed full of terrific characters (adored that cat!)--just BRILLIANT! And from a first-time novelist?! We are in for great things from Ms. Kress! Thank you!
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