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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
In the Simpsons episode Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie, Poochie was designed by a committee to try to pander to every possible demographic. It was so false that people hated Poochie, so he was dropped.

When I was an easily distracted boy with dyslexia, I loved-loved-loved the Ripley's Believe It or Not books. They came out as paperbacks, and every single page was packed with odd images and lots of fascinating facts. Great books.

RBI also has pictures, and a scattering of facts, but this is a committee-designed thing. Each fact is now without pictures, and appears on a cell phone background that fills an entire page. These are scattered throughout the book, interrupting and not helping the flow of the story.

The story itself -- sigh. The Handbook Of Novel Writing suggests introducing the protagonist as early as possible. This book has 7 protagonists. Pages and pages of gallery-style introductions start off the book. Every page oozes "we need more branding!". And every few pages, here's another cell-phone fact.

I've been a fan of Ripley's books for 40 years. This RBI book bears zero resemblance to the fantastic books and columns of yesteryear. This is a brand that has lost its soul.

What they could have done:
1. Ripley-style pages, packed with facts, at the start of each chapter. Ditch the cell phone motif.
2. Focus on one character, bring them in. Introduce other characters only as necessary.
3. Less branding. A lot less branding.
4. Let the story progress without all the distractions and interruptions.

I hope they will return to the style of Robert Ripley. He was a genius in many ways, and I hate seeing this committee-thing mangling his work.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2011
The book was good, if you are a teenager. I was actually looking for ripley's believe it or not. It was a quick read. I would let my 9 year old read it cause it was not scary and it's adventorous.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2011
This is a peculiar, somewhat educational, book aimed at young adults. It borrows liberally from the X-Men with the concept of a school having students with special abilities. Robert Ripley is a computer (you might think of him as Professor Xavier in a box), complete with vast knowledge of scouring the world exploring the weird and wonderful.

The illustrations that accompany the story are good and occasionally there are interesting, educational trivia bits mixed in via R-phone Instant messages between chapters. The story itself isn't very compelling: kids with special powers investigate a strange creature in the everglades and run into DUL, an organization that works against them (think X-Men again and Magneto's clan of mutants working to thwart the X-Men). The story isn't very long for the number of different characters and the reader never really can identify with any one character.

The most interesting parts of this book were the DUL conflict, the illustrations and the R-phone IMs. The concept is alright and there is potential for educating with reading using this framework, but the stories need to be less commercial and more fun to read. They are targeting the middle school audience, but kids this age will have even less patience than adults for reading a compelling story. This competing against videogames? Er, no. Perhaps other stories in the series will fare better.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2010
"A Scaly Tale" is the first book in a series from Ripley's RBI that is specially aimed at boys and reluctant readers, ages 7-8 and up. A teenage detective team called the RBI team care to seek the answer to mysterious sightings of a strange lizard-like creature seen near Ripley High, in the Florida swamplands. Laced with fast action, hip, smart kids, and surprises around every page-corner, "A Scaly Tale" is sure to win a fast following among young adult readers. Complete with trading cards for some of the notable characters and suspects, "A Scaly Tale" puts a few top talented teens in charge of RBI (short for Ripley's Bureau of Investigation) action to solve the mystery and find the scaly sources and clues. "A Scaly Tale" is succeeded by three more adventure RBI tales of diverse teens who travel on investigations to decipher "fact from fiction." The other three are "The Dragon's Triangle," "Running Wild," and "Secrets of the Deep."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2013
my daughter enjoyed reading this book with me the book itself was a good not designed for anyone under 8yrs old some of the words are difficult for kids but was over all an enjoyable book
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2013
I didn't like Ripley's RBI 1: Scaly Tale at all. It was obvious what was going to happen next. There were also so many characters that I couldn't keep them all straight.
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The story is pretty interesting, but the plot didn't seem all that original to me. I think this might be enjoyable to older elementary kids, but it seemed a little juvenile for a teen audience. The characters were okay and there was enough action in the book to capture and keep the attention of a child. I did hope that there would be less pictures and more in the way of words as I am trying to phase my oldest boy out of relying on picture books as much and have been looking for some good chapter books. For the most part I thought this was an enjoyable book and would give a child a thrill. I'd recommend it to parents that have children who are advancing in their level of reading.
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on August 17, 2012
At first the book reads like the introduction to a video game with teacher and student bio-sketches, graphics, and RBI background information designed to tempt reluctant readers. Once the story begins its peppered with sidebar facts on smart phone image graphics. There's lots of action. Lots of dialogue. Lots of danger. Lots of close calls before the team discovers the truth behind the rumors of the lizard-man. The story is followed up by the real-life case file from Ripley's Believe it Or Not. Kids who love to read Ripley's Believe it Or Not, will love this book. kidsmysteryreviews@blogspot.com
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on August 13, 2014
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on August 4, 2014
That's a review from my 11 year old son: This Book's plot was bad, the story was short and very childish. I would not recommend this book to older readers. There is no action. It does not hook you on for long. I got bored of the book very soon. Good thing I did not have to pay money to get this book, it would not be worth even 99 cents! All in all, it's a bad read.
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