Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fangbone! 2: The Egg of Misery

The adventures of Fangbone the third grade barbarian continue, as he is still in our dimension guarding an artifact that prevents the evil wizard Drool from gaining ultimate power in his world. This time around he has to deal with an evil ghost, shopping at the grocery store, dung trolls, and performing with class 3G in an Extinction Pageant, where they are expected to come up with a skit about the dodo. Also, Drool's minions have managed to send an egg to Fangbone. He thinks the egg is from his allies and that it contains a powerful dragon that will help him defend himself. Little does he know that the egg is designed to bring him nothing but misery.

This second volume continues the adventures of class 3G, although it spends less time fleshing out the classmates, relying on the reader to recall the characters from the first book. There is also the requisite gross-out humor, this time in the form of Fangbone's foul feet, which are an offensive in more ways than one. Additionally, the themes of teasing and bullying come up, with Fangbone being the aggressor (at least in regard to describing Drool's childhood). Even the kids of 3G get into the act when they gain the upper hand on one of their former tormentors. I guess I should expect a young barbarian and his friends to be rough around the edges, and their characterization makes them more human and less stock characters.

Michael Rex continues to please with his comical and expressive art style. His facial expressions and action sequences especially stand out as strengths in his work. I very much enjoyed the energy and pacing of this book. He has written a number of other humorous titles for children, among them the parody Goodnight Goon.

Reviews of this book I have seen online have been positive. Wired Magazine's GeekMom Nicole Wakelin wrote about both books that they contained "a heavy dose of gross kid’s humor, the kind that makes adults roll their eyes and smile, and makes kids break out in hysterics." She also added that this series "was as fun for the kids to read as it was for me." Win Wiacek praised the book as "wry, sly, irreverent and, crucially, spoofing contemporary sources and situations." snow at the Unshelved Book Club appreciated Rex's "off-beat sense of humor." Tanya at books4yourkids also has a detailed, enthusiastic review of the first two books that is full of spoilers.

The Egg of Misery was published by Putnam Juvenile. Here is a preview from Amazon.

For those interested in Fangbone's further adventures, Book 3 of this series has just been published.

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