Friday, March 21, 2014

Review: Rare Beasts by Charles Ogden

Title: Rare Beasts (Edgar & Ellen #1)
Author: Charles Ogden
Rating: ***
ISBN: 1416914099
Genre: Juvenile - Fantasy - Humor
Summary: From Goodreads: "Twins Edgar and Ellen live alone -- their parents disappeared years ago, and who can blame them?--in the quaint, little town of Nod's Limbs, in a grim, gray house overlooking the cemetery and the junkyard. They spend their days avoiding Heimertz, the mysterious accordion-playing caretaker; pestering Pet, a hairy, one-eyed creature of indeterminate species and gender; and wrecking havoc on the hapless citizens of Nod's Limbs.

But wrecking havoc can incur expenses, so the twins come up with a unique fund-raising scheme: They'll nab the pets of Nod's Limbs and transform them into exotic animals they can sell for big bucks. Not a bad plan, if one of the purloined pets wasn't a lethargic python with a raging appetite..."

Thoughts: This is a twisted and humorous piece of juvenile fiction, but I would be careful about the maturity and discernment of the children I allowed to read it. Edgar and Ellen are downright dangerous and brutal in the ways they play together at times. (We're talking weapons and other less-than-safe activities.) They also absolutely delight in mischief and misery -- their home is falling apart and they love it that way, they also relish the pitiful cries of Nod's Limbs' children as they search for their lost pets.

As an adult, I found parts of it humorous. It reminded me of a simplified version of the Series of Unfortunate Events books, though this time the children are the ones with the power. Adults are not displayed as especially repulsive, but nor are they displayed as intelligent - almost like Roald Dahl loves to display the adult figures in his books.

Overall, I thought it was a decent attempt at juvenile fiction. Definitely not near the best that I have read, but I would not be opposed to suggesting it to a child with the ability to discern what it meant for humor and what is actually appropriate about the story.

Favorite Quote(s): None.

What is your opinion of twisted children's literature?

- Faye

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