Friday, October 30, 2009

Moongobble and Me

This is a chapter book series by Bruce Coville, of the Unicorn Chronicles fame. At 80 pages, it's geared toward 7-10 year olds, particularly those who are past the early chapter books like Henry and Mudge and need something with a little more length and complexity but aren't quite ready to give up pictures. The Dragon of Doom is the first in the series.

Edward, the narrator, lives with his mother in the village of Pigbone, where not much happens of any note until someone moves into the cottage at the top of the hill. That someone turns out to be Moongobble, an aspiring magician, and his talking toad. Moongobble hires Edward as his assistant, a position which provides Edward with much scope for excitement. Alas, Moongobble is a miserable magician; most of his spells end with the subject being turned into cheese and everyone in the vicinity being sprayed with green goo. The head of the Society of Magicians arrives to test Moongobble's skills and when all goes awry, sets Moongobble to a series of tasks. If he can complete them, he will earn to right to continue as a magician. The first task -- and the central event of the book -- is to rescue the Acorns of Alcoona from the Dragon of Doom.

The book has nice touches of humor, as when they are cleaning for the Master Magician's arrival and Moongobble tries to perform a spell that will send a breeze to blow away all the dust in the house and only succeeds in making the whole place smell like a fart (and that's the word the book uses, to my son's eternal delight). Then too, the Dragon of Doom turns out to be only 4 feet long, and is a figure of fun rather than fear. The pictures, which appear about every third page, are spaced just about right for kids who are moving past picture books, but still need illustrations to clarify the story and extend their interest in the text.

I bought this for my 6 year old with the idea that I would read it to him first, then as he becomes fully independent he can read it himself later. The book was a big hit. It's pure story, not trying to teach anything else (like the Magic Treehouse Books), just seeking to entertain. It works well as a read-aloud book because the action moves along at a nice clip. Fans of Coville's will find that this is in no way like the Unicorn Chronicles -- it's far less serious and complex -- but it's light and entertaining and not at all intimidating for beginning readers. Although the protagonist is a boy, it should be of equal interest for boys and girls. This is the first in a series of books that includes The Weeping Werewolf, The Evil Elves, The Mischief Monster and the soon-to-be-released Naughty Nork (coming out November 2009).

No comments:

Post a Comment