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Peeves Hardcover – May 8, 2018
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
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“Gremlins meets Inside Out in this sneaky parable about courage and self-control. Fun, funny, and surprisingly heartfelt.” (Ernest Cline, author of Ready Player One Ernest Cline, author of Ready Player One)
“A widely appealing title ... readers will be rewarded with laugh-out-loud moments” (School Library Journal)
“Screenwriter Van Waes introduces a new generation to a Gremlins-like creature in this laugh-out-loud adventure. ...the plot will draw in reluctant readers as well as older tweens.” (ALA Booklist)
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Basically, Slim Pickens--the main character--is infected by an experimental drug that causes his “Peeves” (all the annoying things in his life) to come alive (through sneezes) and become little troublesome Gremlins-like monster creatures. This infection quickly spreads through his family, school, and his town. Soon the whole place is overrun and devastated by meddlesome Peeves. Then the critters begin to change form into bigger and badder beasts.
Seems straight-forward and “fun”, right?
Well, all while this is going on...there is plenty of tense, awkward, real-world, underlying drama happening between Slim, his family, and amongst the other characters:
1 - Slim’s parents are divorced and they don’t get along well. They constantly snipe at each other throughout the story. This is real--many kids deal with this. And those that don’t, likely have friends that do. So perhaps a book like this would give youngsters some insight into what life’s like in a divorced family.
2 - Slim suffers from anxiety and nervous breakdowns. He’s kind of a mess, but still a good-hearted kid. Yet the book makes it clear Slim doesn’t suffer from normal, twelve-year-old, ‘life is tough right now’ types of difficulties. He has panic attacks, therapists, has been on and off meds, and ultimately blames his shaky mental condition for his parents’ separation. Which springs up occasionally throughout the book in some pretty heartfelt passages.
3 - There are other deep issues like these in the story, but one big one is the fact that Slim’s school crush Suzie has two dads. So she deals with the troubles that come with trying to be perfect at school, and also a great daughter in an unconventional family. Suzie’s biggest issue is she’s expected to push her fears and insecurities away to always be balanced and strong. Her dads expect this because they own a “new age wellness” type business and they try to portray mentally and physically strong outward images. There is nothing offensive at all in this family unit, but readers have no doubts these two men are in a married relationship with an adopted daughter. And it’s enlightening to read about the life issues with which they all struggle.
So there is a small window into the intriguing teaching moments that exist in Peeves. As I wrote earlier--this is not a “hey here’s a fun ‘Gremlins’ style book, enjoy!” type of story. This book is excellent for families to read aloud TOGETHER and learn from one another. Some books, like this one, are just so wonderful at creating those opportunities.
I recommend Peeves to boys and girls of ages 9-12 and to their parents. It has a cool story that’s enjoyable to read, yet it also helps broaden minds and shows readers the deep issues dealt with by many modern families. That’s an admirable accomplishment from the author, Mr. Van Waes.