________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 10. . . .November 9, 2012


Sludgia. (Boy vs. Beast: Battle of the Borders).

Mac Park. Illustrated by Lionel Portier, Melanie Matthews, Steve Karp & James Hart.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2012.
77 pp., pbk., $5.99.
ISBN 978-1-4431-1903-0.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Robert Groberman.

*** /4



All of a sudden the river of mud moved faster. Faster and faster it went. And as it moved, it took rocks with it. They look like-land rocks, thought Kai.

Mud and rock moved together. Mud flew and rocks rolled. It was hard to see. And then there was a huge noise.


Sludgia, by Mac Park, is part of a follow-up series of adventure books to his previous “Boy vs Beast. Battle of the Worlds” series. Like the previous four books, this story is set on a world in which humans live in an area called "Earth," which is surrounded by monster-controlled areas called such things as Terradon, Aquastan, and Tornados. Each area's name is also the name of its monster-protector, and the nature of the monster is described by the name of the element described in its name. Previous books were about "Terradon", the earth monster, and "Tornados," the wind monster. This book takes place in the land between "Terradon" and "Aquatan". The land mixes land and water, and so the monster is a mud monster.

      The hero of Park's series is Kai Masters, a 12-year-old boy who is in training to become a Border Master. His job now is to be a border guard and border defender. When he gets a warning on his computer and border patrol, he heads out with his robot dog assistant to do battle with the beast of the day. In this case, it is Sludgia, the mud beast. Kai uses water to defeat the mud monster, and eventually the monster floats away into the water world.

      These “Boy vs Beast” books are formulaic. They have familiar similar story patterns to each other, and the monsters vary only in their geological qualities. Boys who are reluctant readers will enjoy the familiarity of picking up a second book, the high adventure of battle, and that the climactic sequences switch from regular full-page text to four pages of graphic, comic book storytelling. The internal illustrations are credited to Lionel Portier, Melanie Matthews, Steve Karp and James Hart. These very detailed illustrations of Kai's technical gadgets and maps of his lighthouse home and of the planet, itself, are found throughout the book.


Robert Groberman is a grade three teacher at Kirkbride Elementary School in Surrey, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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