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The Pickle King Hardcover – March 1, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Grade 5–8—The town of Elbow is known for two things—unceasing summer rain and Herman's Pickles. Bea, 11, is a camera whiz, so when her friend Sam discovers a dead body in an abandoned house, he wants her to document the scene. She photographs the twisted, waterlogged corpse with its missing eye, but once she develops the shots, her camera begins to act strangely. It moves by itself, spins around, and emits weird groans. The dead man has evidently hitched a ride—and now he wants the kids to investigate his demise. They identify the victim as the former head of the pickle company, now taken over by a big conglomerate. Furthermore, they learn that people tend to disappear in Elbow. Some end up in St. Agnes mental hospital, some turn up among the half-crazed outcasts in a filthy camp under the garbage dump—and some just never surface again. Gradually, the friends realize that there is an even more fiendish scheme behind the disappearances—and they may be the next victims. The rather convoluted plot often stretches credulity to the breaking point. The young investigators sneak out late at night, drive a car, access restricted hospital files, and spy on a meeting of the villains' secret Brotherhood. There is plenty of truly gross action as well. Even for a book of this type, the Frankenstein-inspired climax is a bit over-the-top. This is an additional choice where there is an especially strong demand for horror fiction.—Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL
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Although it does nothing but rain all summer in the dead-end town of Elbow, 11-year-old Bea and a ragtag group of classmates discover adventure after they stumble across the ghost of a local pickle manufacturer. Promitzer mixes together numerous disparate elements in this sometimes gruesome mystery, with allusions to Frankenstein, Bob Marley, Dan Brown, Scooby-Doo, and swamp people stirred together and topped off with a final, somewhat unfulfilling lesson on the first day back to school: “Normal meant kids had to stick to their own cliques and act in a way that wasn’t really who they were.” Fewer plot ingredients would have resulted in a tighter, more effective story, and Bea’s first-person narration lacks consistent authenticity. Still, readers with a taste for quirky and circuitous adventures may want to take a bite. Grades 5-8. --Andrew Medlar
Top customer reviews
What can I say about the book that made my son enjoy reading? Ok, I confess I initially bought the book for myself, not for my son, but the cover was just so beautiful I had to have it! I can still remember the first time I saw it on the shelf.
My son was a not a reader, but he sat next to me in the train and we started reading it together. Before page ten he was already hooked! He asked me if he could read it first. He has read it twice, suggested it to his classmates in the school book club and wrote a paper on it for school.
The plot is awesome, the characters are very believable & likeable and the mistery is perfect. The small town called Elbow where the story unfolds is perfect for the plot. So perfect that it's like the town is another character in the book.