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The magic pretzel (Werewolf Club)
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There is only one way to keep from turning into a werewolf, and that is with the help of a magic pretzel. This seems simple enough--unless the only magic pretzel on earth happens to be kept by your half brother Lance Von Sweeny in a special, burglar-proof case in the Museum of the Pretzel on Nemo Boulevard. This is the predicament of Mr. Talbot, beloved (yet weird and scary) teacher, half-man, half-wolf, and sponsor of the Watson Elementary School Werewolf Club.
Norman Gnormal is the only nonwerewolf in the club, but the others let him in because his parents actually wanted a dog instead of a little boy and raised him accordingly. Although Norman (alias "Poodle Boy" or "Alpo-breath") is mocked for growling and keeping meat in his desk, his canine sense of smell and expert tracking skills serve him well in the search for the elusive, parsnip-driving Lance Von Sweeny and the desired magic pretzel. Of course, nothing turns out as expected in Daniel Pinkwater's delightfully absurd, absurdly delightful first installment in The Werewolf Club series of short chapter books.
Jill Pinkwater's pen-and-ink illustrations suit the story's comic buoyancy and contribute to the airy, easy-to-read format. If your children are new to Pinkwater, it's as crucial as a magic pretzel to a reluctant werewolf that you introduce them to The Hoboken Chicken Emergency and when they're ready, his collection of classics, 5 Novels. Move over, Captain Underpants, and make way for The Werewolf Club. Awoooooo! (Ages 7 to 10) --Karin Snelson --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From School Library Journal
Grade 2-4-This beginning chapter book is creative and filled with zany humor. Even the chapter numbers are funny-beginning with "Minus Three." Chapter one is a mere 16 words long and none of the 38 chapters has more than two pages of text. Norman Gnormal is not your average fourth grader. He was raised as a dog because (he thinks) his parents really wanted a dog instead of a boy. Due to his strange behavior (growling, drooling, threatening to bite other students), the school principal signs him up for the new Werewolf Club started by one of the teachers. It turns out that the odd instructor is stuck between being a man and a werewolf because of a supposed curse from his half-brother. Norman and his three real werewolf schoolmates locate the half-brother and get the magic pretzel that can allegedly reverse the curse. Although this book is not quite as engaging as Pinkwater's slightly longer works, it may lead readers to them and is certainly howling good fun.
Kate Kohlbeck, Randall School, Waukesha, WI
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Pinkwater's first person narrators are always perceptive and good-natured, but no-nonsense, types, who seem age appropriate for the child reader. The humor comes from their casual and deadpan throwaway observations about the silly things that are happening around them, and the way that they can express the sweet absurdity of the events upon which they are reporting.
The result is a very calm book, that is silly without being frantic, and absurd without being ridiculous. So the book is easy to read and enjoy, but instead of being fluff it is actually helping to develop a pretty sophisticated reader.
Maybe I'm laying it on a bit thick. In any event, the book is fun and gentle and engaging, and isn't that nice for an early reader?
You see, Mr. Talbot, half-man, half-wolf, and sponsor of the Watson Elementary School Werewolf Club needs the one thing that can keep you from turning into a werewolf: The Magic Pretzel. Unfortunately, it is under the care of Talbot's half brother, Lance Von Sweeny, who keeps it locked away. Enter Norman Gnormal, the only nonwerewolf in the club, who was raised as a dog by his quirky parents (who actually wanted a dog instead of a little boy). Norman uses his tracking skills and canine-like smell to help Talbot find the magic pretzel, but of course it ain't easy.
This is the first book in the series known as THE WEREWOLF CLUB and I hope the next book is just as wacky and wonderful as this one. The illustrations aid a great deal to the story and serve the writing style very nicely. Grab a bowl of pretzels (magic or otherwise) and enjoy.
This book tells the story of Norman Gnormal, a boy whose parents have raised him as if he were a puppy. A kid who doesn't quite fit in with the average crowd, Norman finds a fairly supportive peer group in an after-school club for students who hapen to be werewolves. The club members go on a mission to help their faculty advisor, Mr. Talbot, with a dilemma invoving the magical relic of the book's title.
This book reminded me a little of the film "The Little Vampire," but is sillier (and hairier). The text opens with a spoofy werewolf Q&A, and incorporates some clever references to werewolf films and lore. Good fun!