Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Favorite Series: Aldo Zelnick Comic Novels

Cahoots (The Aldo Zelnick Comic Novel Series)

by Karla Oceanak
illustrated by Kendra Spanjer
Bailiwick Press, May 1, 2011
review copy provided by the publisher

This is the funniest book in the series so far!

Aldo's mother is fed up with the amount of time that Aldo and his older brother Timothy spend inside, on the couch, with their digital gizmos (Game Boy, cell phone, iPod, TV...). She bans electronics before she goes to the grocery store, but by the time she gets back, both boys (and even their dad) are back on the couch in front of the TV. Aldo has grabbed the laptop and is playing Farm Town. Little does he know that all of his misconceptions about farm life are soon to be cleared up.

"I'm level 18 now, so I'm a Master Farer. I have a farmhouse, a giant garden, chickens and a rooster, cows, and lots more farmish stuff. My goal is level 59--Zenith Farmer. That's when you can get a swimming pool because really, what's a farm without a swimming pool? 
One farm lesson I've learned the hard way is to ALWAYS hire other people to harvest your crops. It's way too much work to do it yourself! All that clicking makes your arm sore."
Mom declares that they will be going for a week of vacation to the family farm where she grew up, where her brother, Aldo's Uncle Odin and his wife and twin boys live -- a week of ELECTRONICS FREE vacation.

There are a few good moments -- epic farm breakfasts with lots of BACON -- and lots of bad ones, almost always having something to do with the chores. There is a ghost (maybe) and there is the constant pranking by the twins.

If I had been paying closer attention to the title of the book -- CAHOOTS, hint hint -- I wouldn't have been as surprised as Aldo by the ending. But then again, it was fun to be as surprised as Aldo by the ending!

Why I love this series:
1. Each book features fun words, starred with an asterisk, and amusingly defined in the back of the book. In ARTSY FARTSY, the first book, they were A words, BOGUS had B words, and now CAHOOTS has C words. The definitions are fun enough that if you peek just once, you'll know they are worth your time, either while reading or at the end of the book.
2. Aldo is such a lovable antihero -- very easy to relate to!
3. There are 23 more books in the series to look forward to! One of my students from last year has come back to borrow BOGUS and CAHOOTS, and students from this year's class who have fallen in love with Aldo are planning to come back to my room next year to borrow DUMBSTRUCK and EGGHEAD! Keep them coming, Karla and Kendra!!!

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