Friday, October 18, 2013

Misadventures of Salem Hyde: Spelling Trouble by Frank Cammuso

I'm not personally a fan of Cammuso's popular Dodgeball Chronicles trilogy, since I really dislike Arthurian legends in pretty much all forms, but kids love the silly puns and strong animated style. I was really annoyed when I discovered his books were only available in Graphix' flimsy paperbacks or expensive prebinds and I couldn't easily replace our damaged/missing copies.

So, I was excited to see he's debuting a new series with Amulet, and a beginning chapter one no less!

Salem Hyde is, as one might guess, a witch in training. Unfortunately, after one too many mishaps (who knew they were talking about spelling words and not casting spells?) her parents decide to get her a M.A.C., a Magical Animal Companion. Enter Mr. Whamsford, who is expecting a normal little witch and gets Salem, with all her foibles and mistakes. Salem isn't too happy either since she wanted a unicorn! When Salem accidentally gets picked for a spelling bee and things spiral out of control, she and Whammy will have to solve their differences and learn to be friends.

From the beginning the book plunges right into silly humor as Salem accidentally turns the ancient crossing guard into a dinosaur. More humor is supplied by the suspicious teacher, Mr. Fink, who seems to be the only one who sees Salem's shenanigans. Of course there's a mean girl, some wild vacuum rides, and plenty of spelling mistakes, both magical and mundane.

The galley I received was in black and white, but the final book will be in color. One inner plate showed just hues of green, but going by the cover and Cammuso's previous work, I'm assuming there will be full color throughout the story. The art has a classic cartoon feel with exaggerated eyes, deft lines and strokes filling in emotion, and easy to follow action moving from panel to panel. The storyline and art style isn't particularly ground-breaking or unique, but kids will love the humor and easily recognizable art style.

Verdict: A great filler for your graphic novel section, full of the easy humor that kids love and comic strip-style art. This will be another popular series from Cammuso and I highly recommend adding it.

ISBN: 9781419708039; Published October 2013 by Amulet/Abrams; ARC provided by publisher at ALA Annual 2013; Added to library order list

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