Friday, March 19, 2010

The Brain (series) by Martin Chatterton

I first saw The Brain at summer 2009 ALA. We were on our way out, and I scooped it up and added it to my pile. Then, somehow, it moved to the bottom of the pile. I kept meaning to read it and I didn't and...pretty soon, I found myself on the way to ALA Midwinter. With nothing in my bag but The Brain Finds a Leg and Lost Conspiracy (which I never did read completely). I started reading The Brain. I started giggling. By the time I had arrived in Boston, I had finished the book, laughed myself silly, and was getting very wary looks from the other passengers!

Martin Chatterton is Carl Hiassen on a double dose of weird crossed with Roald Dahl. That pretty much covers these books. In the first story, we start out with a kind of weird introduction, which I had a little trouble getting through - a pod of whales goes crazy and kills a boat of whale watchers. However, the real story starts afterwards, with the whale watcher boat captain's family. His average son Sheldon is getting bullied in school and slogging through life in a haze of misery, his dumb surfer son Sean, who is their mother's favorite, is being nasty to everyone, and their mother is helpless and miserable.

Then Sheldon meets The Brain. He's the combination of every famous detective who ever lived and exerts a strange influence over Sheldon's impossibly nasty teacher. The Brain informs Sheldon that he is suitable for a sidekick, something The Brain finds himself in need of. Together, they investigate the strange occurences from the suddenly aggressive whales to missing bodies, not-so-missing body parts, canine reptiles, and light-fingered koalas. The ending is a little abrupt, but matches the zany flavor of the story!

In the next tale of Sheldon and The Brain, the two are now brothers, living in Switzerland. By the way, the first story takes place in Australia and I thought it was Florida for quite a while, until the koalas showed up really. It didn't occur to me that people don't surf in Florida. At least, I don't think they do.
Anyhow. More strange things are afoot, including missing parents, a gorgeous girl, and rabid cuckoo clocks. I didn't like this one quite as much as the first, although it was quite funny, but I'm just not much of a sequels person. It did move more smoothly and didn't have the problems with beginning and ending that the first one did.

Fans of Carl Hiassen, the weird and gruesome (yes, these books are a bit gruesome in spots - definitely middle grade) and what I call "wacky science" will laugh themselves silly over these zany stories. They haven't circulated quite as well as I'd hoped at my library, but I haven't had a chance to booktalk them yet. Just wait....

Brain Finds a Leg
ISBN: 978-1561455034; Published October 2009 by Peachtree; ARC provided by publisher at ALA; Purchased for the library

Brain Full of Holes
ISBN: 978-1561455270; Published March 2010 by Peachtree; ARC provided by publisher at ALA


Charlotte said...

The Brain was too gruesome for me! The koalas, in particular, seemed a tad egregious. But I know lots of people who have liked it lots...

Jennifer said...

Yeah - the second one isn't as gruesome as the first one but it's also not as funny, at least to me.