Eoin Colfer, the second of five brothers, was born and raised in Wexford, a seaside town in the south-east of Ireland. His first novel, Benny and Omar was an instant bestseller in Ireland, and Artemis Fowl, his first book featuring the brilliant young anti-hero was an immediate international bestseller. It was winner of both the WHSmith 'People's Choice' Children's Book of the Year and the Children's Book of the Year at the British Book Awards, and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Children's Book of the Year and the Blue Peter Book Award.
Colfer (Artemis Fowl) launches a new series with this slender tale of two brothers, nine-year-old Will and 10-year-old Marty. Their mother, determined to find something educational for them to do during the summer, decides the boys should spend afternoons reading at the library. The librarian, Mrs. Murphy, reportedly hates kids and earned the nickname "Spud" because of a gas-powered potato gun she is rumored to hide under her desk with which she shoots noisy youngsters. "That's all I need.... Two more urchins messing up my shelves," grumbles the woman when the brothers arrive. She leads them to the children's section, a single box shelf with four rows of books, and forbids them to leave the patch of worn carpet in front of it. The tug of war between Spud and the siblings yields some humorous results, though the narrative becomes a bit syrupy when the boys, after days of pretending to read, actually get caught up in their books. In the ensuing weeks, "everything was wonderful. We had the time of our lives. Every new book opened the door to a new world." Spud predictably softens when she realizes that the brothers are hooked on books. The story's comic moments, brevity and message are well targeted to reluctant readers, but many middle graders will find this short on substance. Ages 7-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Gr 2-4-This hilarious offering is the first in a new chapter-book series. When their parents become fed up with their boisterous behavior during summer vacation, Will and Marty Woodman are forced to do something educational: "Reading. It's perfect. How can you get into trouble reading a book?" The brothers will spend time at the library, despite their worries about the librarian, Mrs. "Spud" Murphy, who is feared by all children. According to the rumors, she uses a gas-powered gun to shoot potatoes at kids who make too much noise. When Mom drops them off later that afternoon, Mrs. Murphy leads them to the children's section and warns them that they are not to venture off of the carpet. Readers will immediately pick up that Marty has a problem following the rules and trouble ensues when he steps off the rug to cause some mischief. However, he has met his match in Spud, who silently appears on the scene like a "ninja librarian." The cartoon illustrations enhance the funny mood of the story. Youngsters, especially reluctant readers, will laugh out loud at this clever book, which can also be read aloud. A good choice for fans of Dav Pilkey, Jon Scieszka, and Ian Whybrow.-Christine McGinty, Albany Public Library, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.