Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tyler Whitesides's Janitors ~ Reviewed

By Tyler Whitesides
Shadow Mountain Publishing
August 2011
ISBN 9781609080563

Review by Michelle Griep

Back Cover Copy:

Have you ever fallen asleep during math class? Do you get distracted easily while listening to your English teacher? Do you find yourself completely disinterested in geography? Well, it may not be your fault. The janitors at Welcher Elementary know a secret, and it’s draining all the smarts out of the kids.

Twelve-year-old Spencer Zumbro, with the help of his classmate Daisy “Gullible” Gates, must fight with and against a mysterious janitorial society with wizard-like powers. Who can be trusted and how will Spencer and Daisy protect their school and possibly the world? Find out in Janitors, book 1 in a new children’s fantasy series by debut novelist Tyler Whitesides. You’ll never look at a mop the same way again.

My Review:

First off, allow me a disclaimer. I am not a young adult fiction expert. I do, however, love a great fantasy, whether aimed at kids or grown-ups. JANITORS scored high on fantastical elements. Plus there was plenty of action and intrigue, leaving you wondering who the ‘bad buys’ really were. Don’t worry, though. All the loose ends are tied up by the end of the story.

There was some interesting characterization that grabbed my attention. However, my favorite character wasn’t a character at all, but a prop—a hall pass named baybee. Whenever one of Mrs. Natcher’s 6th graders wanted to leave the classroom, they were forced to grab a diaper-clad baby doll off the shelf. I’m talking ugly plastic dolly that’d seen better days…translation: the doll of shame. What a fabulous idea!

Some of the language was over the heads of a kid. I don’t know any 12 year olds that can tell you what napalm is. I was also a little annoyed that thematically any grade schooler who reads this will get a certain amount of justification for not paying attention in class. The ‘toxites’ are blamed for this phenomena. And if you’re not comfortable with magic, warlocks and enchantment, then this probably isn’t the best choice for you or your kids.

Overall, JANITORS is part zany, part action/adventure, and definitely part elementary humor. Personally, I’ll never look at cleaning supplies in quite the same way ever again.

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