Saturday, May 23, 2015

Book 63: Bad Magic

Bad Magic, by Pseudonymous Bosch

What is it with trilogies? This is another first book in one. Sheesh!

Well, I enjoyed this one. It was funny. It had a good story and I liked the characters and the setting. 

It's another boy gets sent to special camp book. Boy comes from family with weird parents and a missing brother, gets in trouble and is counseled by a weird adult (a teacher). He meets weird kids and creatures (like guard bees) and adults in a weird setting (volcanic island) after getting there in a weird way (via a weird seaplane with a weird pilot).

Sounds a bit derivative, doesn't it? It isn't because Shakespeare's play The Tempest plays a major role in the story. One has to love a book for children that includes Shakespeare.

Books and a library are also very important to the story. How can a bookworm like me not like that?

I found the footnotes a bit distracting, but they were very entertaining. After awhile I stopped reading them. When I finished the book, I went back and read the ones I'd skipped. Because of my age I didn't need the references to old TV shows explained, but the other subjects he covered were great. Here's a few of my favorites:
  • "Why do we use random typographical symbols to represent expletives? How the*&%*^#$ should I know? I do know, however, that these symbols are called grawlixes."
  • "Anarchism…is the preferred school of thought for rebellious teenagers everywhere."
  • "…there's no licorice in red licorice, just high-fructose corn syrup hardened to a waxy texture and colored with toxic dyes. In my not-so-humble opinion, red licorice is the only thing worse than white chocolate. Repeat after me: Chocolate, brown. Licorice, black. Anything else I'm taking back."
  • "A bunch of bananas is called a 'hand,' the word banana itself coming from an Arab word for finger, banan."
  • A portmanteau is a word made by squeezing two words together.
The appendices are a great addition to the book. By following simple instructions you can build a potato battery, win a wager and perform a magic rope trick. 

My favorite appendix was an expansion on the third footnote, the one that explained grawlixes. That word and other great terms (like briffits) were created by Mort Drucker, creator of Beetle Bailey, to name various graphic devices cartoonists use. He even wrote a book about it, which you can read about here:

We've been reading comics for years, going to Comic-Con for more than a decade, yet we didn't know any of these terms. There's always something to learn.

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