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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

"Young Frankenstein meets The Princess Bride in the most hysterically hilarious book I've read in years."--Chris Grabenstein, #1 New York Times bestselling author All orphan Bolt Wattle has ever wanted was to find his true family. When a mysterious baron in far-off Brugaria sends for Bolt, he wonders if he's getting closer to finding his long-lost parents. But Baron Chordata appears to be a twelve-year-old boy who wears tuxedos all the time, shouts at everyone, and forbids Bolt from asking questions. Things couldn't get any worse . . . until midnight, when the Baron bites Bolt and turns him into a half boy, half penguin. Then things really couldn't get worse-- nope, wait, they get a lot worse. With the help and hindrance of a plucky girl who just might be the world's greatest bandit, a whale cult led by a man whose weapon is a stale loaf of French bread, and a sinister but friendly fortune-teller who can't stop cackling, Bolt's on a quest to reverse the curse, return to human form, …

Curse of the Werepenguin

by Allan Woodrow

Overall Book Review:

Curse of the Werepenguin is a light-hearted horror story with a style reminiscent of the black-and-white classic horror movies mixed with more humorous tales, such as Young Frankenstein. The story centers around a doomed hero, a young man named Bolt, who finds himself in a tragic tale of monstrous curses, creepy characters, and penguins that are not as cute and cuddly as penguins should be.

The characterization in this book is very good. The protagonist, Bolt, is instantly likeable. He’s alone in the world and has an underdog aspect that makes a reader sympathize with him. No one believes in him or cares for him, yet he continues to have hope that things will turn around and be better in his life. The other characters in the book are alternately charming or despicable, depending on whether they are heroes or villains or somewhere between the two. Each character has unique personality, and the author puts effort into making sure that even minor characters have memorable traits or take memorable actions.

The book’s setting seems very much like the set of a horror movie. It is perpetually dark, cloudy, stormy, or infused with an air of menace. However, this setting is not overly depressing for the reader because it is so over-done that it is funny rather than oppressive. It sets the stage wonderfully for the humorously horrific action and makes the book immersive.

The one fault that his book has is that many of the gags are repeated. This is intentional, as characters repeat a joke several times in different situations, and usually that repeated joke is already a repeat from some other movie, book, or source material of the classic horror genre. This works for several chapters, but at a certain point, it starts to be monotonously repetitive instead of humorously repetitive. The dead horse is beaten well beyond the point of death and into its undeath. (That is figuratively speaking, of course. There are no horses, undead or otherwise, beaten in this book.) The author makes frequent use of humorous asides, similar to what I parenthetically just did but mine was not as good as his are, and by and large these are very funny. Overall, the book is witty and there are some points at which it delivers big laughs. The reader can therefore forgive the writer for perhaps overly replaying the same bits for laughs in places. This book is a good choice for children who love horror stories or comedy and especially for those who love both.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Viking Books for Young Readers

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  None

Violence/Gore:Several verbal threats; a few reports of characters eaten by monsters or animals; a character wears clothing with stains that may be blood; a few instances of minor property damage; a few scenes with an air of general creepiness in the style of a classic movie; a character kicks another; a character kills another with a blow to the head; a man considers murdering a baby; a character has a scary dream; character finds evidence of past violence, such as dried blood or skeletons a few times; a character hears screams, and it is implied that violence was done; mention of hanging as a punishment; a few mentions of slitting people’s throats; mention of blood-sucking animals; a few characters are knocked out; characters are bitten by animals a few times; a noose is affixed to a character’s neck in preparation for hanging; a crowd stampedes, knocking people over; an animal punches a character and knocks him down; character threatens others with a knife a few times; report of people killed in a fire; report of a character giving someone a wedgie; report of a theft; a fight with melee weapons and fists; a few fights between animals and humans with minor injury; a character is trapped in a burning building and searches for a means of escape; a character is eaten by an animal (no blood); a mob of people threatens a character.

Sex/Nudity:  Characters hold hands; characters caress each other’s faces; mention of animals mating; characters exchange love letters (contents are not shown); characters hug.

Mature Subject Matter:

The main protagonist is an orphan; banditry; kidnapping; child neglect; slavery (mentioned).

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Adults drink ale and grog.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

My taste in literature leans heavily towards sci-fi, fantasy, and (my favorite) horror, and the latter can present some fairly murky waters for parents to let their children explore. I enjoy novels of both the standard and graphic varieties. Since those genres, and graphic novels in particular, tend to appeal to boys, I hope that I can help other Boy Mommies in their quest to find books that their little video gamers--I mean, future bibliophiles will read and enjoy. When I am not reading, I enjoy tabletop role-playing games, video games, and singing karaoke. I have a wonderful husband who lets me indulge my reading habit by sharing the housework and being a great dad to our genius kids and their faithful hound.