Monday, November 18, 2013

The Monster in the Mudball -- and a Giveaway!




The Monster in the Mudball by S.P. Gates (September 2013, Tu Books/Lee & Low Books, for ages 8 to 12)

Source: hardcover review copy from the publisher

Synopsis (from the publisher): In this Junior Library Guild selection, eleven-year-old Jin must run around the English town of Newcastle-upon-Tyne trying to track down a monster named Zilombo. Jin teams up with Chief Inspector of Ancient Artifacts A. J. Zauyamakanda, or Mizz Z, for short. 

Zilombo gains new, frightening powers every time she hatches. Now the monster is cleverer than ever before . . . and it appears that Jin’s baby brother has disappeared! Will Jin’s baby brother be next on Zilombo’s menu? As the monster’s powers continue to grow, Jin and Mizz Z must find a way to outsmart Zilombo!

Why I liked it: This is a lively, fast-paced, multicultural fantasy adventure. If you can put up with a bit of head-hopping between characters in this brisk, third person narrative, you'll be rewarded with a great tale. Mizz Z is terrific. Jin's older sister Frankie has an important part to play. But mainly, you'll find yourself cheering for Jin -- the first protagonist I've ever encountered who has dyspraxia, a neurological condition that affects coordination. How he handles that, and helps save the day, makes him a fascinating character. 

Read a guest post on Lee & Low's own blog, in which the author shares photos of the English town where the story takes place. Interestingly, I read the book before I saw these photos, and it's almost exactly as I pictured it! So you know S. P. Gates is great at evoking a setting. Here's a teaser:

This is where Zilombo hides out, in an old sewage pipe



A little about the author (from the publisher's press release): S.P. Gates began her writing career over twenty-five years ago as an English teacher who wrote stories for her classes. One day she decided to send one of her stories in to a publisher and, to her amazement, her story was published. She is now the award-winning author of more than one hundred books for young readers including both middle grade and young adult fiction. Gates drew inspiration for The Monster in the Mudball from her time teaching in Malawi, Africa. Additionally, Jin, who has dyspraxia, is based on the experiences of Gates’ son, Alex, who also grew up dyspraxic. “Other children who have special educational needs might be interested to read how, despite his problems and to his own amazement, Jin becomes a hero,” Gates says.

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And yes, I'm giving away that hardcover copy that Tu Books sent me for review. It comes with its very own "egg" from which you can grow your own monster! To enter, all you have to do is be a follower and leave a comment on this post. International entries welcome. This giveaway ends Sunday Dec 1, 2013 and the winner will be announced Monday Dec 2.


16 comments:

  1. Sounds like a different swing on fantasy. Thanks for the word on it and the giveaway!

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  2. You're welcome, Barbara. I found it interesting that it was set in the real world, but with a monster!

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  3. This sounds like something my grandkids would like. Thanks for telling me about it and for a chance to win.

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  4. This sounds like a crazy read. The cover reminds me of a costume I saw on Halloween. A kid at my son's school was dressed as a dragon like that. Amazing!

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    1. Yeah, I thought the cover artist made an interesting choice, showing Jin with the paper dragon his grandfather made and only a hint of Zilombo (with those claws at the top of the cover).

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  5. So glad you liked this. It sounds awesome. Please don't enter me in the contest.

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  6. Hey, I was going to comment anyway, but for a chance at the book? I'm so here! lol Thanks for the review--always nice to add another book to the To Read pile!

    --Suzanne
    www.suzannewarr.com

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    1. Hey, thanks for stopping by and entering, Suzanne!

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  7. Oh neat! I just won this book from Literary Rambles. Please skip my entry.
    I can't wait to dive into my own copy soon. :)

    ~Akoss

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  8. I love the sound of this book and I like the characters' names. Thanks for the giveaway.

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    1. The names are great, aren't they? Good luck in the giveaway!

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    1. It certainly is, Myrna. Thanks for entering.

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