Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Book #19: Night of the Living Lawn Ornaments

Some of you may be familiar with the name Emily Ecton--you'll hear it every week at Peter Sagal reads the producing credits of NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! I love that radio newsquiz, and everyone who has anything to do with it seems to be my type of funny. So, when I heard Emily Ecton has written children's books, I knew I needed to pick one up.

I'm guilty of starting with book #3 in a series--but when the title of book #3 is Night of the Living Lawn Ornaments, can you really blame me? Me, the one who loves garden gnomes and lawn flamingos? Anyway, Night of the Living Lawn Ornaments is the story of a girl named Arlie (short for Arlene), her best friend Ty (a boy), and her cross-dressing Chihuahua Mr. Boots. They happen upon an antique-looking dragonfly pendant, and just for kicks they try it on every lawn ornament, ceramic knickknack, and animal-shaped tchochke they come across--you know, just for fun. Turns out that every lawn ornament, knickknack, and tchochke this pendant touches then comes to life--including a somewhat moody kangaroo stuffed animal, the library's lion statues, and a pork restaurant's hog mascot. The goal for Arlie, Ty, and Mr. Boots is to get things back to normal before anyone starts to notice all of the real live lawn ornaments traipsing about.

While the title seems to suggest a scary-ish plot, Night of the Living Lawn Ornaments is actually more madcap than anything else. It's fast-paced, inventive, and full of some rather strange characters (both of the human and once-inanimate variety), and the fact that it's a series would likely appeal to young fantasy-ish readers just getting out of first chapter books like My Weird School. I'd suggest it to just those readers: the elementary school-aged children with a penchant for the strange and goofy in their reading.

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