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Whales on Stilts: M. T. Anderson's Thrilling Tales Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 1, 2005
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From School Library Journal
Grade 4-6–A story written with the author's tongue shoved firmly into his cheek. Lily Gefelty's father works for a mad scientist who wears a sack over his head. When she overhears him say that he wants to take over the world, her oblivious father assures her, "Honey, sometimes adults use irony. They don't really mean what they say." Nonetheless, the 12-year-old calls on her two best friends, Katie Mulligan, the star of the "Horror Hollow" novels (think "Goosebumps"), and Jasper Dash, also known as the Boy Technonaut (think "Tom Swift"), to investigate. The trio soon learns that Larry does indeed plan to conquer the world using mind-controlled whales on stilts with laser-beam eyes. No adult will believe them, so it's up to the kids to save the Earth. Readers who have graduated from Dav Pilkey's "Captain Underpants" (Scholastic) or who know their Lemony Snickets (HarperCollins), should love this first title in a new series. It's full of witty pokes at other series novels and Jasper's nutty inventions.–Walter Minkel, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Gr. 5-7. Putting a Stratemeyer Syndicate spin on the flakiest of pulp conventions, the always-surprising Anderson pits shy but clever Lily Gefelty and her two pals--Katie Mulligan, star of her own horror fantasy series, and relentlessly dweebish boy techonaut Jasper Dash, an adventure series hero himself--in a battle to save the world from an army of mind-controlled, laser-wielding whales on tall stilts. Pausing for authorial asides, random digressions, book ads, and the occasional product plug ("Say kids: Want to feel peachy-keen? / Drink a Quart of Gargletine!"), Anderson takes his intrepid trio through fire and water, chases, attacks, numerous silly cliff hangers, and lines of dialogue such as, "'Dash it all chums, this sounds a mighty pickle.'" Following a wildly destructive climax, there's the requisite happy ending--which includes the launch of a new series, featuring "Lily Gefelty and her pet rat Nimrod." Goosebumps fans and readers who get Lemony Snicket's brand of humor will be rolling in the aisles. John Peters
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
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Whales On Stilts has become one of my all-time favorite books. I found it with a young relative's school books and was drawn in by the retro-styled cover illustration. I flipped through the pages and read a few random sentences and I was laughing out loud.
This book is hilarious.
M.T. Anderson delivers a smartly funny narrative disguised as an innocent children's adventure novel. It's not a story that HAD to be written and it's not a sophisticated work of literature that will win any medals. But that's not the point. The key is in how the story is presented.
The book is very much a spoof of the children's adventure genre. And the pages are full of creative ways of incorporating jokes in a book (including fake advertisements, humorous footnotes, a digressing narrator, a less-than-educational set of study questions, and--my favorite--the use of fonts for sight gags!).
What's great about Whales On Stilts is that it really thinks "outside the box". It knows what kind of book it is and it makes fun of itself. It knows how preposterous the story is and it celebrates that.
(For a taste, just look over the back cover. If this style of humor is not for you, then you might not enjoy the book as much.)
The book is aimed at a young audience (and kids should be able to appreciate its unique style), but the humor does not lose its effect on adults. Some of the jokes may even be funnier to adults (who'd be more apt to get the cultural references). But this is still a great book for kids. (Especially if they can sense sarcasm in print.) Buy it for your son, daughter, niece, nephew, or grandchild, then ask to borrow it when they're done. (It's pretty quick reading, especially for grown-ups.)
The story itself revolves around Lily, a normal girl whose two best friends are the adventurous stars of their own respective book series. Lily's father works for a mad scientist who turns out to be more than meets the eye (unless you get a good look the first time) and the plot has to do with Lily and her friends stopping the mad scientist's scheme to have whales destroy the city.
Kids will follow the adventure. Grown-ups will appreciate its ingenuity and humor.
I don't take life too seriously. To me, this is how books SHOULD be written.
Author Anderson's witty writing style made me laugh all through the book. Excellent entertainment by a super talent!
There was only one thing that threw me off: Though the book has futuristic themes (restaurants in the sky and flying "individual" transportation), the drawings are all old-fashioned. Lovely, inspired art, to be sure, but they did not appear to match the text and the era. It reminded me of a comic book from the thirties, or earlier. Am I wrong?
As a big fan of the old juvenile series books Mr. Anderson is making fun of here, I've found most attempts at satirizing them pretty lame, despite the fact that I fully recognize they have been ripe for satire since at least the turn of the century...
from the 19th to the 20th Centuries that is.
In addition IMHO Mr. Anderson is only about half as funny as he thinks he is. Having Jasper Dash, Boy Technonaut, come up with a way to secretly record all photocopies made in the villain's lair onto one convenient, 220 pound wax roll instead of a modern recording medium is kind of funny.
Having Jasper select for the getaway car something with a top speed of 35 mph instead of faster vehicles he already owns because they're not rocket-powered, is not.
And the only word appropriate for describing most of the too frequent authorial asides is tedious. However, I have to admit that Mr. Anderson's story slowly grew on me, kind of like a toenail fungus that won't go away no matter what you do, that makes your toenails so yellow and unsightly that you are ashamed to be seen barefoot until you finally clear it up by taking Natren Healthy Trinity Probiotics 90 Capsules Dairy Free.
Hey, if he can get away with it....
What I cannot deny, though, is that the book got better and better as it careened along. I started out giving it 3 stars, gradually raised it to 4, and then VERY grudgingly raised it 5 as he actually pulled off a pretty spectacular ending.
Unfortunately, since this is the first book in a series: M. T. Anderson's Thrilling Tales, I guess that means I shall now be forced to read The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen and Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware.
I can hardly wait!
Most recent customer reviews
Why I picked it up: I wanted a short read for a weekend trip.Read more
This is a interesting book in the middle and at the end .