- Age Range: 8 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 3 - 7
- Lexile Measure: 760L (What's this?)
- Series: The Gecko and Sticky (Book 1)
- Hardcover: 208 pages
- Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (February 10, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0375843760
- ISBN-13: 978-0375843761
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 7.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,865,639 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Gecko and Sticky: Villain's Lair Hardcover – February 10, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Van Draanen (the Shredderman books) sets a madcap new series in motion, introducing 13-year-old Dave and Sticky, a talking gecko he rescues from the clutches of a neighbor's cat. The lizard drags the boy to the "maniacal mansion" of a "dastardly demented" scoundrel to retrieve ancient ingots which, when placed into slots on an Aztec wristband, give the wearer superhuman abilities. Though Dave is hoping to snatch coins that bestow invisibility or flying powers, he instead grabs an ingot that enables him to scale walls gecko-style (explaining the possibly confusing title of the series), best the villain and become a hero. Peppered with exaggerated alliteration and the excitable lizard's Spanish-tinged "Stickynese" ("Freaky frijoles!"; "Holy tacarole!"), the wisecracking narrative bounds from one slapstick scenario to another. Gilpen's halftone illustrations add to the good-natured inanity, and a glossary collects Sticky's vocabulary. Dave reappears-and, courtesy of another ingot, disappears-in The Gecko & Sticky: The Greatest Power, due in May. Ages 8-12.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Thirteen-year-old Dave Sanchez is deep within the dank tunnels of the evil Damien Black’s mansion, plotting with his talking gecko, Sticky, before readers even get a chance to react. Damien who? A talking what? Van Draanen establishes an enjoyable crime-fighting duo with the dorky Dave and his motormouthed gecko, both of whom were introduced in the author’s Shredderman: Meet the Gecko (2005). In this series starter they’re after some of Black’s magical Aztec ingots to go with the wristband they’ve already stolen from him—a wristband that gives Dave the ability to scale walls, which leads the media to dub him “The Gecko” (which explains the confusing series title). It’s never especially clear what’s going on in the story, or why; part of that is due to a lack of character and plot development, and part of it relates to Van Draanen’s wacky sequencing of events. But younger readers will enjoy the short chapters, constant action, author editorializing, and transliterated Spanish accent of Dave’s lizard (or “leeezard,” as Sticky would say). Grades 3-6. --Daniel Kraus
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-- He loved them and was totally engaged in them, always trying to predict what would come next. They are also very funny books and we laughed a lot when we read them.
-- I loved those books because they fill a difficult niche in books. Between easy chapter books and the 9-12 year old shelves. While they are challenging, our second grader can read them if he pays attention. I typed about 250 words into Word and checked the Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level. They come in around 3.5; that is roughly third grade level. I've found it very hard to find books that seems like a real book and tell a great story and still are at a good level for a kid whose not ready for full kids novels. If your kid is stuck in the empty zone between the easy chapter books and the more advanced 9-12 aged books, these are great.
-- We started the first Gecko and Sticky book the other day, and we are laughing every bit as much as with the Shredderman books, and he's just as involved in the story. I'm glad there are a bunch of these books. I think we'll be reading them for a while.
-- We read these on the Kindle, and the pictures are very well rendered and very nice. It's a great Kindle book for kids.
Let's start with Sticky, the talking Gecko lizard. In most instances, Gecko lizards can't talk --- or steal things --- but Sticky is quite real and has a real problem of taking things that don't belong to him. This time his sticky hands have landed an ancient Aztec wristband that promises incredible powers to the person wearing it. The wristband, though, doesn't work without power ingots: notched Aztec coins that click into the wristband. The person with these magical ingots is none other than the most evil and diabolical treasure hunter in the world --- Damien Black.
Damien Black, as you can imagine, is less than thrilled to discover that a lizard has stolen his most prized possession. He'll stop at nothing to retrieve the wristband that enables the wearer to fly, walk on walls, or become invisible, among other things. Since Black still has the power ingots, there is only one thing for Sticky to do: return to Black's monstrous mansion and get his sticky fingers on those amazing superpowers.
And that is where we find poor normal Dave. After recovering from the shock of a talking gecko lizard, Dave is entranced by the possibility of flying or becoming invisible and agrees to go with Sticky to Black's mansion. Their journey is filled with all sorts of vile and diabolical mischief you might expect from a scheming villain: trap doors, confusing hallways, a broken evil-laugh soundtrack, an unpleasant snail waterfall, and a very hungry komodo dragon. Along the way, Dave and Sticky come face to face with Black and his accomplices, the Bandito Brothers, and yet manage to escape with a power ingot in hand --- or, I should say, in wristband.
Dave, though, ends up disappointed with his ingot's magical power and believes everything will return to normal now that he's back at home and grounded for staying out so late. Black, on the other hand, will stop at nothing until he has the wristband and all the ingots back in his possession. When Black places another boy's life in danger, Sticky convinces Dave to use the magic power for good, and so begins the adventures of The Gecko & Sticky.
After reading this book, I found myself wishing that I had a hilarious sidekick like Sticky whispering in my ear and getting me into all sorts of trouble. I also couldn't help laughing at Damien Black's attempts to be really evil but usually failing miserably. Plus, the Bandito Brothers add a great comical element to the book. VILLAIN'S LAIR is the start to a great series for beginning or reluctant readers and anyone who longs to be a superhero.
--- Reviewed by Benjamin Boche
Dave Sanchez is a pretty normal kid. He lives in an apartment with his hardworking parents and his annoying sister. Life was fairly routine until the day his pet gecko announced that he could talk. He told some crazy story about helping three loco banditos in their get-rich-quick schemes.
Now he says he is trying to track down the diabolical Damien Black.
Sticky the gecko has a powerful Aztec wristband known for its superpowers. The catch is that the evil Damien Black has the power ingots that must be snapped into the wristband to activate its powers - invisibility and the power of flight - just to name a few.
According to Sticky, they must get to the ingots before Damien gets to the wristband and begins his plan to take over the world. Their adventure begins as they battle slimy snails, shrieking bats, and shrunken heads to gain access to Damien's frightful mansion.
This new series by author Wendelin Van Draanen offers fast-paced action and quick-witted humor. Dave and his sassy sidekick Sticky are sure to please fans of Van Draanen's earlier SHREDDERMAN series.
This is an excellent choice for boys and especially reluctant readers looking for fun and adventure.
Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky"