Monday, September 24, 2007

Ba Ba Ba

Do you know that song by Ivy? Ba Ba Ba? (click on that link to listen to it.) It gets in my head ALL THE TIME. And is there right now.

Sadly, my copy of Apartment Life is old and worn and the CD's out of print... (is a CD out of print? Out of pressing? What's the equivalent?)

Anyway, let's talk about a book that is in print.

Here Be Monsters! (Ratbridge Chronicles 1) by Alan Snow.

Short version: Fantastic adventure for kids featuring shy trolls, good pirates, and nasty cheese hunters.

Long version: Arthur lives in the tunnels under the town of Ratbridge, slipping up every night to forage for food. Usually this involves rummaging through garbage cans, but some nights it means stealing from people's gardens.

It was a garden night when he saw the illegal cheese hunt. Unfortunately, the members of the cheese guild who saw Arthur as well and stopped up his only entrance back home to his grandfather. He soon makes friends with Willbury (former barrister) and an assortment of underlings-- creatures that live underground-- including boxtrolls and a cabbage head.

But then, someone starts selling very small underlings and kidnaps Arthur's new friends!

The cheese guild has everyone in their pocket but that's not going to stop Arthur, Willbury, and some pirates cum laundrymen from trying the thwart them.

Decidedly oddball, and veeeeeeeeeeeery British (tones of Dahl all over), I loved it. Snow's frequent ink drawing illustrations add a lot of humor to the already funny text. How can you not love a book where cheese is a docile animal to be hunted. CHEESE! And trolls are very timid and very shy, and there is a whole community of women who fell down rabbit holes while children and were raised by rabbits and now think that they are rabbits.

It's a good, meaty book, weighing in at 529 pages, but there are lots of illustrations scattered throughout the text, very short chapters, and a compelling story to make this a rather zippy read.

I highly recommend.

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