This book is a blast. So much so that I will be bold and declare that I can’t imagine a kid who wouldn’t like it. It’s oozing kid appeal. Pure, 100% fun.
Anna Smudge may only be a kid, but she’s got a serious gift for listening to people, so she’s started up her own business as a professional shrink. She’s got clients galore and she does all of her “shrinking” in a storage closet in the lobby of her Manhattan apartment building. Beyond her work helping New Yorkers with issues, Anna is a regular kid, except for when she’s trying to catch Mr. Who, the most devilish and mysterious mastermind in the world, who just happens to be after Anna’s father. Oh, and she does a lot of homework too. Good thing Anna has friends on her side who are up for just about anything. Will she discover who the Who is? Will she save her father? Will she continue her good work with the nuts of New York? All of the answers are wrapped up in a funny, page-turning package. Go grab a copy.
Now we must talk about the cover and the hyper-cool, full page comic-style drawings that begin each new section of the book. This is a case where the cover completely captures the spirit of the story inside – exciting, wonderfully melodramatic in places, a little scary, with a heroine who’s gutsy and independent. The art just pops – I love the way the wind has caught Anna’s scarf and the spooky yellow moon glows from behind the skyscraper. The expression on her face is perfect – knowing and ready-for-anything. Who is behind this, you ask? Comic artist Greg Horn. Who is behind the wonderfully expressive black and white drawings inside? Comic artist Glenn Fabry. Their work really lends further drama to an already action-packed tale. I also think that the style of their art will help to draw boys to this book, because it is absolutely a story that should appeal to boys and girls in equal measure.
You’ll also find there’s plenty of wacky humor here, and a certain element of the unbelievable that will make this book appeal to fans of Lemony Snicket’s work. As I read, I felt that Anna Smudge belonged in the company of Kiki Strike, Alex and the Ironic Gentleman, and to a certain extent the Alex Rider books. All are funny in places, full of smart kids, and take readers briskly along from one dramatic moment to the next.
The point of this book is not to get kids thinking about Deep and Important Issues in the world today. The point of this book is fun. We all need books like that, and I imagine that Anna Smudge will prove to have as much talent for entertaining kids as she does for listening to people’s problems. I can’t wait for the next title in this series, in which one of Anna’s pals, Quenton Cohen, takes centre stage as a Professional Chef. Visit the author’s website for more information (she of the mysterious name “MAC”). There is a cool book site as well: whoismrwho.com. Stay tuned for an interview with MAC right here in the weeks ahead.
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