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The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless Hardcover – July 25, 2006

3.9 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-6–When 11-year-old Minerva McFearless and her younger brother, Max, discover that they are the latest generation in a family of monster-hunters, their widowed father forbids them to learn anything about his dangerous occupation. Nonetheless, the siblings soon come upon Ms. Monstranomicon, a monster-hunter's manual that is a monster herself, and find themselves pursued by the minions of the vile Zarmaglorg, king of the monsters, who kidnaps their father. Zappa has written a passable first novel whose roots aren't hard to see–Ms. Monstranomicon bears strong similarities to one of Harry Potter's textbooks, for example. But the sardonic back-and-forth between Minerva, Max, and their know-it-all guide, Mr. Devilstone, is amusing, as are the photo-illustrations and the nature guide pages describing the disgusting creatures that they encounter and the often-disgusting formulas that the monster-hunter employs to defend against them. The protagonists are engaging, but the plot is fuzzy and the villains are stock. Still, children will enjoy the story, which ends, unsurprisingly, with the promise of a sequel.–Walter Minkel, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 4-7. Minerva (Mini) and Maxwell McFearless, ages 11 and 9, respectively, have a grand adventure involving myriad monsters when they set out to rescue their kidnapped father. The McFearlesses come from a long line of monsterminators, and Mini is fluent in both written and spoken Monstrosity, the secret language of monsters. The book Ms. Monstanomicon contains descriptions of all types of monsters (mostly human-eating), along with extremely gross monster-repelling recipes. The kids are aided by Mr. Devilstone, a one-eyed coyote who wears the Enotslived Diamond, which works as a monster alarm, around his neck. The book is lavishly illustrated with the author's drawings of monsters and black-and-white photographs of scenes sculpted by Clay Sparks. Lemony Snicket fans who relish the strange and yucky will find Zappa's barf-filled romp, the first in a series, monstrously entertaining. Zappa is the son of Frank Zappa, which should draw attention. Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films have already acquired the film rights. Diana Herald
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 1010L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (July 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375832874
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375832871
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,515,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I read this book with my 8-year old daughter and we laughed quite a bit, totally engaged in the plot and characters. You can't help but love the heroine, Minerva McFearless, particularly when she's exhibiting her love-hate relationship with her little brother, Max. The writing is wonderful...full of alliteration and assonance that made some lines like tongue-twisters and others like poetry. My daughter is easily creeped out, yet we got through this one despite the goriness in some scenes. I believe the humor balanced it out.

No need to compare to Rowling, either...I've read all the Potter books three times each. The Monstrous Memoirs is entirely unique with it's own dark world that borrows nothing from J.K.'s brilliance. It's brilliant all on its own.
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Format: Hardcover
I saw Zappa on a panel during Comic-con. He was there to discuss Young Adult books. I was there with a friend and was not really interested in the panel but hey, it was something to do for the time slot. He changed my mind as soon as he began speaking.

Zappa impressed me. The book impressed me. His passion for this project was jubilant and infectious. As he spoke, you could see the love he had for working towards a good book and wanting it to be for the kids...something I think he succeeded in doing. The McFearless book is a great romp and looks to be a good series if he continues along with it... which I believe he is.

I disagree with one of the editorial reviews' take that this was a commercial venture...and that it borrowed from a slice of the Potter books. I can see how that kind of cynicism would rear its head where young adult books is concerned but it's unwarranted here. Zappa has written a book not to sell anything but because he wanted to write a book for those kids who needed something to sparkle in their minds when they read... something he struggled with himself when he was that age.

If you ever hear him speak on the process of writing this book...and how hard it was for him... you can hear that passion. And it is that passion that drives the story between those pages.

By the way, if you do purchase this book for your young adults, please be sure to ask them to not try out the recipes unless over a very large tarp. It's meant to be a fun interactive book. It definitely comes across that way.
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Format: Hardcover
In this delightful book, Minerva McFearless discovers that her family has been monsterminators for generations--fearlessly fighting evil so that children can sleep safely in their beds. Naturally, she and her younger brother Max want a piece of the action, but their dad think they are too young for such dangers. So, behind his back they secretly study the Monstranomicon and learn all they can about the horrible monsters and how to battle them.

And thank goodness they do, because the more than vile Zarmaglorg has his minions kidnap their dad and only Minerva and Max can save him! Well, with some help from Ms. Monstranomicon and the mysterious Mr. Devilstone.

While there are spots in this book that might be more trite than others, the author's enthusiasm fills it so full that one can't help but enjoy it. His subtle (and not always so subtle) puns, plays on words and borrowing from other authors (I'm sure Lovecraft would have to have loved the Monstranomicon) make it a treat for adults reading it, while the descriptions of the monsters and the monster repellents in the Monstranomicon have to be enjoyable for everyone.

The real gem of the book, though, it's crowing glory is the illustrations. Every page is illustrated lushly, well amusingly anyway, with childlike drawings of monsters, sepia photographs of the action, and various detritus from like moths, rocks, monster blood and gumballs. I couldn't wait to turn the page to see just what would be on the next two pages, and would it have anything to do with the plot, and if so, what? Again, I have to say that Zappa's love for his project is so obvious and his love , and the incredible amount of work that went into the illustrations, glosses over any small faults that The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless does have and rounds it out to a 5/5 reading experience.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book at a school book fair. It was to be a read in the car book. Well, we started it out that way. It was a difficult book to read aloud, but the kids enjoyed listening to it. Their imaginations could really take off with the story.

I took it along on a field trip I chaperoned with my 2nd grade son. Reading aloud to him in a noisy school bus, I realized how quiet it had gotten. Several students all stopped to listen to the story. They were really engaged in the story. Even when I stopped, a few girls whined for me to read more, and asked to borrow the book, so they could read.

We enjoyed the "extras" that were included. The making of monster repellent recipes and brief descriptions of the monsters. The "Book" (Monsterminicon) which is what I referred to her as I read aloud was really full of good information.

I would recommend this book to young advanced readers... as it is full of made up words. Any age group could sit and listen to it, though, and throughly enjoy it.
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