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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Jasper Dash is back! (and why that should matter to you)

Anderson, M.T. (2014) Pals in Peril:  He laughed with his other mouths  New York:  Beach lane Books

Opening lines: " The moon was not the only thing glowing in the sky that January night.  Other things soared over the white farms and forests.  Things watched the cold Earth carefully.  Things peered down at the hills and the little houses and the fir trees on the mountainsides.
     From a mile above, a car looks very much like a very tiny thing.  Just like a toy.
     Inside the car, there was a lot of noise.  The Delb family drove home from their skiing vacation.  Mom Delb drove.  Dad Delb slept,  And their two kids, Grady and Hopper fought int he backseat, slapping each other's heads. "

So begins the latest adventure featuring Jasper Dash, Boy Technonaut; and his friends Lily Gifelty and Katie Mulligan.  the main character, Jasper Dash,is the washed-up boy hero of a series of books from the '50s -- much like Tom Swift.  Katie is the hero of a series of junior high books called Horror Hollow (much like Goosebumps).  Lily is just a kid.

Anyway, in this book, Jasper, distraught after his latest invention, an atomic powered phone the size of a lunch cart, is not as novel of an idea as he had hoped, teleports himself into the heart of the Horsehead Nebula to look for his dad (long story) and is soon hoodwinked by a life form that he thinks might be his dad, but is in fact intent on taking over the Earth.  Only Lily and Katie can help (with the help of a very old 1950s copy of Jasper Dash and his Amazing Interplanetary Runabout; Jasper Dash and his Incredible Undersea Drill, or maybe Jasper Dash and his attractive Photon Sweater -- actually it is unclear what the title of the book was)

Sounds cheesy?  Sounds odd?  Sounds like the sort of thing that could only be appreciated by someone with a very strange sense of humor.  Fair enough.  Guilty as charged.  But look, this is really smart, really funny stuff.  If you got a kick out of Danel Pinkwater's The Snarkout Boys and the Avacado of Death, or Doug Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or movies like Monty Python and the Holy Grail or Buckaroo Banzai and his Adventures Across the Eighth Dimension -- well, then you ought to read this book and any other Jasper Dash book you can get your hands on (Jasper Dash and the Flame Pits of Delaware is my favorite -- partly because it includes a teenage monk who has just taken his vows of sarcasm.)

No worries that a parent would challenge this book.  Actually, the likelihood that a parent would even be able to understand it is fairly low.  The age of the reader is probably less important than his or her sense of humor, but I would guess that this book would work for fifth grade and up -- if the young reader has a sufficiently developed sense of humor (and a sufficiently underdeveloped sense of seriousness.)

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