Monday, November 23, 2009

Middle Grade Mondays: The Name of This Book is Secret

Author: Pseudonymous Bosch
Publisher: Little Brown
Pages: 384
Reading Level: Ages 9 to 12 years

Summary of Book (Good Read’s Description):

Warning: this description has not been authorized by Pseudonymous Bosch. As much as he'd love to sing the praises of his book (he is very vain), he wouldn't want you to hear about his brave 11-year old heroes, Cass and Max-Ernest. Or about how a mysterious box of vials, the Symphony of Smells, sends them on the trail of a magician who has vanished under strange (and stinky) circumstances. And he certainly wouldn't want you to know about the hair-raising adventures that follow and the nefarious villains they face. You see, not only is the name of this book secret, the story inside is, too. For it concerns a secret. A Big Secret.

I think I fell in love with this book at the first page where in bold letters it said “Do Not Read Beyond This Page!” Now if that doesn’t catch your attention then maybe the first chapter will. It is filled with a page and a half of “xxxxx’s”. Yes you read it correctly. All “x’s”. I was pretty convinced at this point that the author was brilliant. In chapter 1 ½, the author continues explaining that this was a book about a secret that was so secret and dangerous that he was afraid to share anything about the book and normally in the first chapter you find out all of those things.

The story is primarily told from the point of view of Cassandra (“Cass”) though the author has an odd way of interjecting himself at regular intervals into the story. Cass teams up with Max-Ernest to find out the mystery of the Symphony of Smells. Uncovering the mystery leads both children to several adventures and a few dangerous situations. What they do discover is that there is something unexplainable about the disappearance of a magician (the owner of the Symphony of Smells)and who exactly are the mysterious woman and man looking for him?

Though at times it might seem annoying to have the author speak to the reader, it does provide a certain amount of humor. In one critical point of the story, the author declares that he does not think he can continue with the story because it just might be too dangerous. After a discussion of how he can be bribed to tell the next part (chocolate works wonders), the author does indeed continue on. Even the ending of the story, which I will refrain from revealing, is treated in a unique manner which drove me a bit crazy while being very entertaining.

It is hard to find books that will appeal to both boys and girls and books that will hold the interest of reluctant readers. However, Bosch has created a series which appeals to both genders. Its larger print, occasional pictures and sense of humor will draw in reluctant readers despite what might seem like a book with a lot of pages. Children who enjoy reading stories with equal parts humor, mystery and suspense will find The Name of This Book is Secret an engaging read and will be eager to start in on the second book of the series called If You Are Reading This It Is Too Late. As a result, my class copies are frequently checked out by my students.

Though I am certain that Pseudonymous Bosch would be mortified that I was recommending his books to children, remember this is a very "dangerous book", the Secret Series gets my thumbs up for entertaining middle grades fiction. If you ever do get to see Pseudonymous Bosch at a book signing, I would also encourage you to attend. He is just as entertaining in person as his books are to read.

When you were a child what was your favorite type of book to read? Let me know in the comments section.


1 comment:

  1. Oh that sounds like a fun book... definitely have to get it for my daughters when they are a bit older.

    My #1 book type was mysteries when I was younger. Still love them now... who doesn't love a good mystery!