Monday, December 21, 2020

Review of Fart Quest by Aaron Reynolds, illustrations by Cam Kendell

Fart Quest by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Cam Kendell
Format:  Hardcover
Publisher:  Roaring Brook Press
Number of pages:  277
Published:  September 15th, 2020
Source:  Publisher via Giveaway offered by Goodreads

Opening Lines:  "My name is Fart.  Of course, that's not my real name.  My real name is Bartok.  Someday I plan on going by BARTOK THE BRILLIANT!"   

Fart is an apprentice mage to Elimore the Impressive, and aspires to do impressive deeds just like his master.  Which has proven to be difficult when his master can't even take him seriously.  Who wants to be referred to as a gaseous emission?  Fart can't help that on spell picking day he picked out the spell for Gas Attack, it was just too cool of a name to pass up.

Mage Elimore is in the craft of seeking adventure,  slaying goblin's, and collecting treasure.  At the moment Fart and two other apprentices are on a mission with their mentors to raid  nearby goblin's.  Well actually, their master's will do the raiding, they're just supposed to watch and learn.  However, during the goblin attack, all of the goblins, along with Master Redmane, Master Oonah, and Master Elimore vanish.  Poof!  Vaporized with nothing but their robes and weapons left behind.  Left to fend for themselves, Fart, Pan, and Moxie, decide that they'll have to impersonate their masters and continue on to become heroes on their own.  None of them want to return to Krakentop Academy having failed their Hero Wilderness Training.  Then they come upon The Great and Powerful Kevin, who just happens to have a quest for them to seek out the Golden Llama and retrieve one of its magical golden farts.  So our three apprentices head out on their first quest in hopes of  proving they're the heroes they've aspired to be. 

Fart Quest reads like a dungeon and dragons adventure with the added bonus of a culturally diverse character, and fart type humor, placing this more in line with elementary school readers.  I quite enjoyed the descriptive action scenes, the full page illustrations by Cam Kendell and the way each illustration was coupled with a description of various terminology one would expect to see in a dungeon and dragon type campaign.  There's even a point when the story pages become completely dark, to give the reader the feeling of going into the dark Caves of Catastrophe.  Each illustration added to the action or helped the reader define certain aspects of the story, from the differences between a mage, a dwarf warrior and a monk, as well as defining the creatures the adventures encounter.   I also liked how Reynolds had Fart, Moxie and Pan gaining experience points for each task, new spell (magic missile) and for the monsters (ogres, owlbears and harpies) they encounter along the way to the Golden Llama.   And though at first the apprentices were seen as bumbling, lost and lacking some fundamental skills, they learned that the most important thing was to be who you are, and not to try and emulate someone else.  They learned to form a team and Bartok gained courage by defending his friends.  Lastly, I so loved Tick Tock, the philbling, not to be confused with a frog, salamander or gecko, he so reminded me of Dobby and hope to see more of him in The Barf of the Bedazzler, releasing February 2nd, 2021.        

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

MG review of Otto P. Nudd by Emily Butler

Otto P. Nudd by Emily Butler 
Format:  Paperback 
Publisher:  Crown Books for Young Readers
Number of pages:  240
Publishing:  December 29th, 2020
Source: Author in exchange for an honest review

Opening Lines:  "Otto, you're splendid, mumbled Bartleby Doyle."

Otto is a tinkerer, builder,  and the feathered raven assistant to inventor Mr. Bartleby Doyle.  They've been working on a secret project together in Mr. Doyle's workshop for quite some time.  Each morning Mr. Doyle has a favorite routine, he  meets up with his next door neighbor, ten year old Pippa for a walk to school, while Otto follows them from above.  Their routine usually includes making a loop around the park,  where they leave a peanut on each fence post along the way for Otto and the other birds in the park to retrieve.  However,  today their ordered routine is interrupted when a squirrel named Marla swipes Otto's peanuts.  As the one who keeps order in the neighborhood, Otto takes great offense to having the peanuts meant for the corvids stolen. Unfortunately, Marla is too fast for Otto to confront so he heads to the workshop to check on Bartleby's progress on their flying device instead.   Unknown to Otto, Marla is just trying to provide for her small children.  Delayed in arriving to the workshop, Otto is unfortunately  locked out, all he can do is look in from the window.  What he sees is very unsettling,  Mr. Bartleby has begun the experiment without him,  he's even rattled to witness Bartleby neglecting one of the most important safety measures for any experiment such as theirs, wearing a helmet.  Then Otto sees the experiment go horrible wrong and Bartleby is injured in the process.  Unable to get inside the workshop, Otto seeks help from an unlikely source.  

 Otto is an interesting character, maybe a little rude, often belittling to his friends by over emphasizing how smart and knowledgeable he is.  I loved how his attitude and behavior began to change as he started to realize just how poorly he treated his friends.  There's a valuable lesson in here about asking for forgiveness and being open to the idea of making a change.  The illustrations by Melissa Manwill punctuating the beginning of each chapter were cute and added to my enjoyment in reading the book.  However,  I do wish there would have been one of Mr. Doyle, he sounded like such a nice old man.  There's also a nice note at the back of the book which includes some interesting facts about corvids.   Overall, Otto P. Nudd is an adorable story which will especially appeal to readers who enjoy books with anthropomorphic characters, stories involving inventions or unlikely friendships.  

**A huge thank you to Emily Butler for the ARC**