Middle Grade

My Video Game Ate My Homework

This week Sam shares the new graphic novel My Video Game Ate My Homework by Dustin Hansen. Dewey Jenkins is going to fail middle school and be forced into summer school unless he can get an A+ on his science fair project. It doesn’t hurt that first prize is an as yet unreleased Infinity Lens VR video game console. Unfortunately, his friend Ferg had been in the principal’s office and broke the console and has now brought it to Dewey to repair. After succeeding in his repairs, the console springs to life and straight-up steals Dewey’s science fair project and taunts him to retrieve it. At this point, Sam and Danielle agree that a video game that robs you is probably not going to be a massive sales success, and there must be some sinister corporate plot behind this. Despite these highly suspect circumstances, Dewey and his friends enter the virtual world and encounter some pretty trivial puzzles, though they do encounter some candle based spiders delightfully called pyrachnids that engage in a truly horrific practice of turning people into candles and slowly consuming them as they burn. After surviving all that the group faces off against the final boss: Dewey’s transformed science fair project, for some reason. While Danielle and Sam contemplate the worst things in their own homes for the game to steal, they’re just glad it didn’t take his dad’s chainsaw.

The Night of Wishes – Part 2

This week Sam shares the conclusion of the the Michael Ende novel The Night of Wishes. We rejoin our story as our two bumbling animal heroes wander out into the snowy night with no plan to stop the evil sorcerer Preposteror and his aunt Tyrannia Vampirella from completing their evil deed quota via magic wishing potion. Fortunately, Preposteror and Vampirella have to spend an inordinate amount of time doing ridiculously complicated magics to brew the potion, when they’re not wasting time they don’t have trying to back-stab each other, that is. Through some pure, blind luck Mauricio (née Morris) and Jacob manage to obtain a time traveling bell ring from the upcoming the New Year’s Eve bell tolling, which, if we’re understanding this correctly, would undo the reverse wishing effect of the potion and foil the evil plans. At this point, both Danielle and Sam have a little breakdown because they’re so confused by the time traveling sounds and complicated wishing/reverse wishing/undo reverse wishing magic rules. It doesn’t help that Preposteror and Vampirella continue to do ridiculous things like race while riding a giant scorpion and bedbug respectively. However, it’s when the wishes start that things really go off-the-wall, so enjoy as Sam tries desperately to make Danielle understand just any amount of what he’s saying.

The Night of Wishes – Part 1

Sam shares a lesser known work of the author of The Neverending Story, Michael Ende, with the book The Night of Wishes. When the nefarious sorcerer Beelzebub Preposteror (whose name Danielle is incapable of saying correctly) falls behind on his quota of evil deeds for the year, he has until midnight to fulfill his contract or face foreclosure by the devil himself. Fortunately, his witch aunt Tyrannia Vampirella, who’s in the same boat, shows up with a plan: To brew the legendary Satanarchaeolidealcohellish Notion Potion that will let them literally wish all their problems away. Unfortunately, each of them is living with a spy from the High Council of Animals, a cat named Maurico di Mauro and a raven named Jacob Scribble, who are determined to stop them. These spies, however, are incompetent to a degree that is only surpassed by the sorcerer and his aunt’s inability to cooperate, and none of them seem capable of forming a coherent plan. So listen to Sam struggle with German wordplay and pronunciations and Danielle struggle with character names and pretty much everything else, especially the overly complicated rules of the magic potion in a book that’s both incredibly goofy and unexpectedly dark.

Shark Shock

Sam brings Danielle the show’s first middle grade novel with the Donna Jo Napoli book Shark Shock. Adam is your typical eleven-year-old boy: he likes video games and playing soccer, and is absolutely terrified of sharks. This really isn’t a problem until his family plans a three-week vacation to the New Jersey shore in the same place where the shark attacks that Jaws were based on happened. Adam quickly comes up with a plan to keep himself safe while swimming in the ocean: His talking freckles can keep a lookout and warn him about sharks. Yes, there are talking freckles living on Adam, and no, Sam hasn’t read the first book in this series, Soccer Shock, which may explain some of this. Unfortunately, divisive political squabbling amongst the freckles means they won’t be able to help. Danielle has questions, but even if Sam had answers there’s no time as Adam makes a new friend at the beach by the name of Seth, who was blinded in a boating accident a few years earlier. Adam thinks maybe he can help Seth listen to his own freckles so they can help see for him. Sam is annoyed with Adam’s parents for some pretty blatantly sexist behavior by giving Adam his own room instead of his older sister. Danielle just wants to know where the heck are all the freaking sharks.