David Michael Slater's The Book of Nonsense is the first book in his Sacred Books Series, a projected series of five books designed for Middle School readers. I hope the next books in the series are a little more exciting, because, for me, this one dragged.
When Daphna and Dexter Wax' father, Milton, returns home for his job as a book scout, just before their thirteenth birthday, Daphna is excited to show him the new bookshop in the village, The Antiquarian Book Center. Daphna loves it, considering it the ABC, holding everything about magic. She's just a little leery of Emmet, the monstrous boy who works there. Dex wants nothing to do with the store, or Emmet, who has beaten him up.
But, there's worse things in the bookstore than Emmet. When Milton tries to sell a special book there, Asterious Rash, a mysterious old man, somehow gains control over Milton and the book. When Daphna explains the problem to Dex, they unite to find out the secret behind the book. Soon, it looks as if Rash might also control Daphna in his search for power.
Most readers in the eleven to thirteen year range will find this book too obsessed with an old book, with little action. The adults in the book are not well-developed, and the twins don't know each other well. The books seem to be designed for readers passionate about literature, and there won't be too many readers who appreciate this kind of literature at that age.
As a librarian, I did appreciate one section, describing Daphna's passion. "But of course it wasn't smells that made Daphna love books. No, it was the words themselves. It was mind-blowing to think that you could learn absolutely anything in the world if you just had the right words in the right order."
I just don't think middle school readers will be passionate about The Book of Nonsense. But, it's just my opinion. The book is a finalist for the Assoc. of Booksellers for Children's Best Books 2008 & Cybil Award nominee.
David Michael Slater's website is www.davidmichaelslater.com
The Book of Nonsense by David Michael Slater. Blooming Tree Press, ©2008. ISBN 9781933767000 (hardcover), 256p.