CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 17 . . . . April 27, 2001
"Can you believe this mess" I said to Jessica as we walked through the traffic jam. "We'll be stuck here all day!" We followed the skid marks on the freeway toward the flashing red lights up ahead. The cause of all of this, my dad, sat in our van listening to a medley of death songs on the radio as he stared straight ahead.Malcolm in the Middle is a popular television program for elementary and middle years students. This book is an adaptation from a program episode entitled "Water Park." Malcolm, his older brother Reese, and his parents plan to spend the day at Wavetown, USA. The last time they went to a water park, they were banned for life, and consequently readers are prepared for an interesting adventure. The boys fight constantly with each taking revenge on the other. Malcolm tries to overcome his fear of the ride, the Liquidator. He also continually takes revenge when a girl that Reese likes is nearby. On the way home, there is a traffic accident ahead of them for which their father feels somewhat responsible. While the boys' mother is trying to obtain a cell phone to phone Dewey, who is supposedly home with a new babysitter, Malcolm finds a girl, Jessica, who is up for any adventure and who keeps Malcolm busy. Reese leads a revolt on an ice cream truck vendor.
While the plot with the four characters is ongoing, chapters are inserted to provide the stories of the absent brothers: Frances, who is attending a military school, and Dewey, who is having his own adventures. Frances, the eldest brother, has a dilemma involving his overbearing Commandant Spangler and a game of billiards. Because Spangler thinks that Frances has been letting him win, he wants a fair contest, but the other cadets know that they will be in for major punishment if Frances wins. Dewey, the youngest brother, has been left at home with the grandmotherly Mrs. White. After Dewey calls 911 when Mrs. White collapses, he follows a balloon and goes on a series of adventures with a lady farmer in a tractor and migrant workers before finally being returned home by a motorcycle gang.
The intended audience would enjoy the three subplots which are interspersed throughout the plot. The humour is juvenile but effective for middle years students. Periodically, Malcolm inserts a commentary in which he gives views about his life and events. The characters tend to be stereotypical of the age group with the parents being less than perfect role models for the boys. One possible concern with language occurs on page 43 where the mother says, "What is wrong with you two? Are you aborigines?"
Naturally, those early adolescents who enjoy the television show will be attracted to the print version of the characters and their bickering antics. A title which can be recommended to reluctant readers as well as those students who enjoy slapstick humour.
Deborah Mervold is a teacher librarian in a grade 6-12 school and Grade 12 English teacher at Shellbrook Composite High School in Shellbrook, SK.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association.
Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice
is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.