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The Adventures of Tomato and Pea Book 1: A Bad Idea Paperback – August 8, 2013
About the Author
Erik is an eleven-year-old sixth grader that loves to read. He started his blog, This Kid Reviews Books when he was nine. Erik writes a monthly book review column for a local free newspaper. He has a black belt in TaeKwon Do and in his spare time enjoys building things out of LEGOs. He hopes to be an inventor and a published author when he grows up.
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Tomato is the great crime-stopper from Oarg. He's a planet-wide superhero who single-handedly stopped an alien invasion. Now one of his own, a villain named Wintergreen, is seeking to eliminate him and conquer the world. Their misadventures, thanks to some of Wintergreen's bumbling cronies, crash land them on an unknown planet--EAR-TH. Will Tomato be able to stop Wintergreen? Will he be able to save his friends? Will he be able to return them home?
Tomato and Pea will delight a second through sixth grade audience. There's a big adventure going on here that involves cool techy gadgets like jetpacks, super charged StunGun 5000s, Enemy-Neutralizer ray pistols, and Chameleon Cloaks, not to mention the complex control panel of a spaceship named the SS Poofy (my kids LOVED that name). But what delighted me most was the artistry with which Erik related his story. Consider the following:
Light moments can make any book more fun, and this one is sprinkled with plenty of dry humor. For example, as they're about to crash land, Tomato asks, "Where are we going down?" "Somewhere called O-HI-O," I said. "O-HI-O sounds friendly."
Erik also gives his characters very distinct personalities. Pea is an over-packer who's ready for any situation. His gear--including a tuba--often sparks a smile and comes in handy in prickly situations. Poppy Lobster is a trivia lover who often spouts off random facts when nobody's really in the mood to listen to them. (He's also banned from the reference section of the library.) And Skew isn't a very good crime-fighting agent, but "he could make a stew out of a carrot, some rubber bands and a cardboard box and everyone would stand in line for it."
This young author also has a handle on creative word pictures. Here's a description of Sergeant Marsh (whose name is also well-chosen) by way of example: "Marsh was round like a ball that was starting to lose its air. Marsh's color made him look like a big mud-pie." Or this description of Pye: "His shape reminded Wintergreen of a crayon that was overused." Are you starting to get the idea that this 11-year-old doesn't really write like an 11-year-old?
Now take in this larger sample of Erik's detail and smooth writing style (and humor again):
"The electrical systems failed and everything went black. The ship shot through the air, bounced off of a boulder, shot through tree tops, skidded across several rooftops and crashed into the chimney stack on a building. The lower section of the ship was lost in the impact. Fortunately the upper section, containing the control room, was not severely damaged in the landing.
"After a few minutes a faint glow appeared in a corner of the control room. 'I knew these would come in handy,' I (Pea, the over-packer) said happily as I passed out glow sticks to the others."
And finally, Tomato and Pea resonates with some very positive themes like cooperation, friendship, trust, perseverance, second chances, and never leaving anyone--not even an enemy--behind.
I'll grant that not all adults will want to read through this space adventure, but I guarantee that the ones who do will be impressed. And I'm certain that other kids are going to eat this one up. Who knows what they like better than another kid? Two thumbs way up!
"11-year-old Erik plans to eventually take over the world. Right now he's a bit too young, so he is spending time as a sixth grade student, book review blogger and hopeful writer."
Consider the opening lines of chapter 1:
"Wintergreen wasn't always bad. There was a time when he wanted to be a ballerina. But being the only boy who wants to be a ballerina was hard and the other Smidges at school...made fun of him. Oh, who am I kidding?!? He was always bad! ... Who am I? OH! Sorry, I forgot! My name is Pea and I am Tomatos best friend."
Here, Weibel turns the old platitude "wasn't always bad" on its head - to great comic effect. It made me laugh out loud, hooking me into the book immediately. Note also the engaging, natural-sounding language with which Pea introduces himself, and you already have a taste of the delights of this book.
I love the way Weibel uses comedy to develop his characters. For example, consider a couple of the lines Weibel uses to develop Wintergreen's character:
"Wintergreen...admired how his blue skin coordinated so well with the suit he had on. I'm more of a bluish green, he thought to himself."
The "bluish green" is exactly the type of thought that a vain person would have. Notice that Weibel does not come out and say, "Wintergreen was vain." Instead, Weibel SHOWS us Wintergreen's vanity.
Here's another example of Weibel showing rather than telling us that Wintergreen is vain:
"Wintergreen?... I thought this was a cruise for outstanding citizens, not outstanding criminals," Tomato said.
Wintergreen roared, "YOU DOLT! YOU HAVE NO - did you just call me outstanding?"
This is sophisticated writing!
In addition, Weibel writes with a fine sense of the ridiculous. For example, consider these lines:
"Welcome! Welcome! I am first mate Lefty here to show you aboard the S. S. Poofy!" Lefty announced through his megaphone.
"Lefty, we're standing right in front of you." I DON'T think the megaphone is needed."
Finally, Weibel ends the book with a real cliffhanger, making our mouths water for the sequel. After the S. S. Poofy crash lands on "EAR-TH," Wintergreen becomes a reformed character - until he speaks the last lines of the book:
"No defenses, pushover planet..." Wintergreen's face changed. "Spike, Lefty, Pye come over here! I have an idea! MWAHAHAHAHA!"
Congratulations to Weibel for writing such a fine book. I am convinced that Weibel will one day be a New York Times best-selling author, and I intend to follow his wonderful writing as his career develops. What a unique opportunity to watch a splendid child-author grow into a brilliant adult author.
After an introductory chapter in which we first hear about Tomato, the heroic Smidge from the planet Oarg, we move into the main story, where we learn of Wintergreen's dastardly plans to overtake the planet. He hasn't got a hope, of course, any more than any other villain, but he gives it a good try. After an initial battle between the goodies and the baddies, the whole group find themselves on the strange planet Ear-th (yes, that's what they call it). They have to learn how to work together and live in this alien environment.
There are some really funny moments along the way: Weibel's humour shines through the story and he plays well to his readers.
My son used to write stories like this (actually his stories weren't as good as this: sorry, son!) and I know he'd enjoy it, which is why I'm going to let him know about it. Very suitable for boys and girls from seven upwards.
Most recent customer reviews
But I gave the book five stars because it has to be good.Read more