Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Not the Pinkwater of my youth

So I finished my second juvenile book in a row. Well, the first was technically "Young Adult" whereas The Yggyssey is classified as juvenile literature. Why am I reading kids' books?

As I mentioned in last weeks review, the Frankie Landau-Banks book was an accident. I didn't realize that it was geared for teenagers until I was well under way.

Yggyssey was different. I deliberately chose to read it and it all started thirty years ago.

Thirty years ago, the greatest book I ever read was Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy From Mars by Daniel Pinkwater. I loved, loved, loved it. I still love it to this day. Every three or four years, I sign it out and re-read it and still enjoy it. It's a great book and it was so enjoyable, my Blogger (and other places) alias, Mad Guru, comes from that book. The Mad Guru is an extremely minor character in Alan Mendelsohn. I always thought it was a great name.

I enjoyed lots of Pinkwater's books back in the day. More people know him nowadays as a commentator on National Public Radio. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to find out that a local elementary school teacher is having her students read Pinkwater's Lizard Music. That got me so excited, I decided to check out Yggyssey. In my excitement, I didn't realize that it is the second book in a series.

Didn't really make much difference. The first book is referenced so much that you know all about it. Alan Mendelsohn is also cited in an offhand way which I find sort of funny. Pinkwater's books are largely the same. Young kids get involved with really strange, possibly paranormal events. Unfazed, they want to become more a part of it and explore it. Things get weird, then mildly bad, then all is well and the book ends.

In The Yggyssey, a young girl, Yggdrasil Birnbaum and her two friends, Seamus and Ned (Ned is the topic of the first book in the series) discover that there is a major ghost celebration going on at some mountain. They find this out because Yggdrasil lives in a hotel haunted by ghosts. They also find out that the mountain is in another dimension. They get there, they attend the celebration, they come back.

The chapters are ridiculously short, 2-3 pages each and unlike Pinkwater's earlier books, I never really develop an interest or fondness for the characters.

Turns out, too, that this whole book is online. If you want to read it you can go here. I suggest reading Pinkwater's earlier books.

And if you really want to get into my good graces, snag me a copy of the first edition of Alan Mendelsohn in nice condition, not ex-lib, with dustjacket. It should only run you about five hundred bucks.

If you want to read Alan Mendelsohn, can't find it in a library, and don't want to buy two copies, one for me and one for you, you can pick up Pinkwater's book Five Novels which contains (can you guess?) five of Pinkwater's stories, including Alan Mendelsohn.


--Transfixed Ingress said...

You turned me on to his books when we were young. I have a foggy memory regarding cigars and bubblegum. I've seen Lizard Music in libraries - never any others.

If I fall into a pit of cash I'll grab you that first edition. More likely (and it ain't) I'll stumble across something in a thrift shop or garage sale. And I'll repeat - it ain't likely.

As for your penchant for juvenile literature, do you ever ask the boowahs what they are reading / like? Or did they not catch the literary bug?

Mad Guru said...

Cracks me up that you more readily leave comments than e-mail me.

Never know about the thrift shop strike. I bought a copy of The $1 League for $2 at a Salvation Army store last summer. Book dealers sell it for $150-$200.

1. I don't have a penchant for juvenile literature. It just has happened that way recently.

2. Both boowahs read voraciously. Maybe not as much as their old man but quite a lot. Doodle is into the Warriors series right now and Indiana Jones (even though he hasn't seen the movies). Gaga reads all sorts of weird stuff and has not been one for juvenile literature for many years.