Happy MMGM! Spotlight on the amazing Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder
Some spotlights are easier to write than others–the books are of a kind people nod their heads over and feel wise for having read. Other books are just as enjoyable and perhaps better written, but most people will feel a guilty pleasure for having read them and worry that their wise-quota took a hit. I have a simple answer to that–
Think of the children.
Is my answer relevant? That depends, but it’ll work at shutting them up. And the truth is that most kids would love this book…and so would many adults. So go ahead and indulge, and if anyone says it’s not good enough or turns up their nose, put a little passion in your voice and say ‘Kids need fun books, that make them laugh and encourage openness of mind. Think of the children!’ Say it with enough drama and they’ll leave you alone.
As for me, I not only loved the story, I was super impressed with Jo Nesbo‘s writing. But before we run off into fan girl writing notes, let me toss up the cover.
I actually wasn’t crazy about the cover design–no offense to illustrator Mike Lowery. It seemed to me like it promised a much more slapstick book than I really wanted to swallow, and one that was quite literally all about farts. Not so appetizing.
In truth, it is all about farts. But these farts are a force of nature–the kind of farts *SPOILER ALERT* that can send someone flying into the stratosphere, befuddle twin bullies and their criminal father, and perhaps take on the biggest anaconda to ever terrorize the sewers of Norway. Plus, they don’t stink. So you see, these farts are quite sophisticated, as farts go.
But I’m digressing from that fan girl moment I promised! When you think of great books, there are a few major things that come to mind. High on the list will be great characters, because it’s hard to have a really fab book with flat characters. Superb plotting will be up there, too, as a reader like myself can’t be really swept away without a twisty and highly evolved plot. Voice is pretty essential, and innovative story elements keep the book fresh and unique, so it will linger in the mind like an exclamation mark rather than a piddle. It’s rare that you find a book that does a bang-up job in all these areas, but Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder pulls it off.
A somewhat subtle theme I particularly enjoyed was the prey-food-chain way his bad guys grew and–for lack of a better way to express it–ate themselves. I also just loved the character of Nilly. If ever I were born a truly tiny and neglected fellow with red hair and no particular way to persuade the world of my worth, I hope I could respond as Nilly does. He’s rocketed up the charts to become one of my all-time favorite characters, and I think the next time I expect trouble I’m going to take a Nilly-stance and face it straight on with a ‘What do you have to say about that?’ attitude.
I also have to give a nod to Mr. Nesbo’s excellent use of foreshadowing, and clever way of introducing seemingly inconsequential items which become highly useful later. Of course I can’t say more than that–some spoilers can’t be alerted enough and are best kept out of sight.
Lastly, the fact that the book takes place in Norway was fun, and added an interesting element to the setting and descriptions. Broadening a person’s sense of the world and who is in it is always a good thing, as it leads to open minds and fewer barriers. I enjoy a good book set ‘elsewhere’ at any rate.
Now let’s see what Apricot Kitty hat to say…
“Humans. You really are your own worst enemies. You’d never catch a cat making a mess of things the way these characters do, or locking up the wrong people. You’re worse than kittens at looking for trouble. It’s a good thing that some of you–like Lisa and Nilly–have absorbed a few feline characteristics and can land on your feet.”
She may have a point there–but what would be the fun of a book where people were always sensible? I like a book with a dose of reality, and in real life people make mistakes. What are your favorite book traits? What makes the biggest difference in whether you file the book away under ‘love’ or ‘hate’ once you’re done?
Shannon Messenger has a list of other Marvelous Middle Grade Monday offerings on her blog, so stop by and discover more books!