Friday, May 6, 2011

Zorgamazoo, by Robert Paul Weston (ages 8 - 12)

We're wrapping up testing here at school, and our students have loved listening to funny poems all week. I'd love to share with you Zorgamazoo, by Robert Paul Weston. We were thrilled that it won the California Young Reader Medal for Intermediate Readers (3rd, 4th and 5th graders). If you want a deliciously funny book to hook your tween reader, check this out. Zorgamazoo is a cross between Dr. Seuss rhyming and Lemony Snicket's twisted humor in A Series of Unfortunate Events that had many kids laughing and asking for more.
by Robert Paul Weston
NY: Razorbill, 2008
ages 8 - 12
available on Amazon and at your local library
read chapter one here
winner of the California Young Reader Medal
Katrina Katrell is a child who's always been curious about things around her, always asking questions and, like many children, she's always noticing things that no one else notices. Are the ogres and hipogriffs her imagination? Who can tell? Certainly her crabby governess, Mrs. Krabone, has no patience for Katrina's questions or magical stories. When Mrs. Krabone threatens Katrina with a lobotomy, young Katrina decides that she needs to run away. When she meets Morty, the hairy, horned Zorgle she had seen in the subway, Katrina's adventures have truly just begun as she and Morty set off to find the missing Zorgles of Zorgamazoo.

Robert Paul Weton's rhyming couplets fill me with laughter and amazement. They are a joy to read and pull me along. But Zorgamazoo is also deliciously scary, funny, and exciting as you follow Katrina and Morty's adventures. Katrina and Morty are a lovely pair of almost utter opposites. Katrina is spunky and adventurous young girl; Morty is cautious and mild-manner middle-aged beast. But it is truly Weston's joy as he plays with language that has young readers almost reading this aloud to themselves.

The illustrations, layout and design of this book adds to the overall effect wonderfully. It's well worth looking at the first chapter, available on the Zorgamazoo website. The different fonts, humorous illustrations and layouts on the pages add to the suspense and humor. In fact, although I adored listening to Alan Cumming's narration on the audiobook, I actually liked reading this even better than listening to it. As School Library Journal writes, "Weston maintains the rhythm and energy of sing-song rhyming couplets throughout the tale and holds his audience's interest with suspense and dashes of humor."

If you enjoy this, I'd suggest other nonsensical, whimsical poetry like Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich. You might also enjoy the creepy, funny School of Fear series where students are sent to an elite school to overcome their fears. And of course, I'd recommend Lemony Snickets's A Series of Unfortunate Events.

The review copy came from our home library and from Audible, the site I love for audiobooks. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion will go to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2011 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books.


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