Book One of The Templeton Twins
By Ellis Weiner
Illustrated by Jeremy Holmes
Available now from Chronicle Books
I sometimes chat with people while reading books. It's a rare sometimes, because most of the time I prefer to focus on my book rather than talk to people. I tend to talk when I need to think something through.
In the case of THE TEMPLETON TWINS HAVE AN IDEA, I was having issues with the narrator. Now, the narrator is very funny. Hir voice is idiosyncratic, with a strong opinion on the story, and often digressing to things like meatloaf recipes rather than the main plot. Yes, it is very much like Lemony Snicket. A Series of Unfortunate Events ended a little more than five years ago. There's room for a new story in the same vein. But there were times I found the style uncomfortably similar.
Abigail and John Templeton are fraternal twins living with their inventor father. After their mother's death, their father decides to go to work at a different university. There a man accuses their father of stealing his idea and demands credit. Dean D. Dean and his identical twin Dan D. Dean are willing to kidnap the Templeton twins in order to get what they want. But fortunately Abigail and John are experts at cryptic puzzles and the drums, respectively.
THE TEMPLETON TWINS HAVE AN IDEA is very funny and smart in a way that's accessible to younger readers. I particularly liked the quiz questions at the end of each chapter. They're silly - either easy, not a real question, or a facetious request for an essay - but I felt like they did increase my engagement with the text.
I liked Jeremy Holmes's artwork. I read an ARC so most of the illustrations were only sketches, but I liked the way they looked. Each image is stylish and dynamic. And the design of THE TEMPLETON TWINS HAVE AN IDEA extends from the illustrations to include playful borders and some special speech bubbles. It's both attractive and tempts rereading in order to find more details.
Young puzzle lovers and Lemony Snicket fans will enjoy THE TEMPLETON TWINS HAVE AN IDEA. I think there's always an audience for hilarious books about smart kids getting in and out of trouble. At least, I hope there is. And that audience will find THE TEMPLETON TWINS HAVE AN IDEA.