By Adam Rex
Available now from Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins)
I loved Adam Rex's first foray into middle grade books, the award-winning THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY. COLD CEREAL, unlike SMEKDAY, doesn't begin with an alien invasion and thus takes a bit longer to get off the ground. Instead, we're introduced to the Cold Cereal Trilogy's rather large ensemble which includes Erno and Emily Utz, twins who look nothing alike and live with their foster father and giant nanny, and Scottish Play Doe, the new kid in school who sees strange things. One of those things being Mick, a clurichaun who claims that local company Goodco is capturing magical creatures.
But once COLD CEREAL gets going, it's a terrific ride. There's a variety of things being mocked, from the claims made on the side of children's cereal boxes to mystical cults. Even symbolism takes a hint. And it isn't just leprechauns and pooka's running around Goodborough - there's many unexpected legends waiting to make their appearances.
There are lots of riddles to solve, which I always loved in books as a child. There's nothing like trying to play along. I really enjoyed the two sibling relationships. Scott and his little sister Polly get on each other's nerves and Erno and Emily are forced into false competition, but both are obviously loving. I think Biggs might be my favorite side character, if only because his scenes were always hilarious.
The ARC didn't contain all of the illustrations, but the ones I could see were terrific. Adam Rex's illustrations are detailed and I love the comics done to illustrate Goodco's commericals. (It's a wonder Goodco ever rose to prominence considering one of they sold "Burlap Crisp" with a surly magical spokesman.) You can see some of the illustrations on his blog, as well as download yourself a Mick paper doll.
Today it seems like many trilogies take that as an excuse to leave the first book open-ended. While the evil Goodco still exists, COLD CEREAL does have an actual climax. Scott, Erno, Emily, and their friends prove to be a formidable opposition to the cereal corporation. I look forward to the next book in the trilogy!