Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Medusa Jones by Ross Collins - review

This jaunty little first chapter book came my way courtesy Betsy Bird at Fuse #8. Every now and then she jettisons some excess ARCs, and I was lucky enough to snag one this time around.

Here's the old underdog-saves-the-day story with a new angle: Medusa, a gorgon, with the requisite snaky hair and reputation for petrification, and her pals Chiron the centaur and Mino the minotaur are picked on at school by The Champions, shiny shiny hero kids named Perseus, Theseus, and, oddly, Cassandra (presumedly pre-curse).

Teasing, name-calling, etc. A hat is snatched off and thrown in the gutter. Then the three freak kids have to go on an unsupervised camping trip with the hero kids, and, what do you know, by using their skills together, the monster kids save the jerky trio of champions and return to Athens big heroes.

Then Medusa turns The Champions to stone anyway, which actually sounds more satisfying here than it does in the book. In the book, her parents are very big on self-control, and you're led to feel proud of Medusa for exercising hers, so it comes as something of a surprise that she blows it at the end. I'm guessing that the author is setting up a conflict for future books.

My sixth-grade friend Alice, admittedly a little old for this book, read it and said, "Meh." I'm inclined to agree. However, the kids that lap up anything to do with Greek gods and heros will accept this book. And I won't hold it against Ross Collins. I adore his illustration style: it's like Marla Frazee with attitude. And Alvie Eats Soupand Supposing are marvelous books, and I'm hoping to get my hands on Germs sometime soon. Wait, no. Oh, you know what I mean.

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