Saturday, November 14, 2015

Kat McGee and the Halloween Costume Caper by Kristin Riddick


Rating: WORTHY!

"Long Ranger" should maybe be "Lone Ranger"?!

This is my first Katherine McGee, and indeed my first Kristin Riddick, novel, and it was a worthy read, although as a series, it’s not something which at my age I feel any compulsion to continue, but for the intended age range, I see no problems with it at all. It was a fun, inventive story of wild derring-do, support and friendship and sends a very positive message. I have to add that the illustrations are remarkable and worthy of a novel aimed at any age. Nick Guarracino is a fine artist - and a useful contributor. For example at one point the questers came upon a wall of trumpets and I was picturing that completely wrong until I saw the artist's depiction of it. Hopefully he saw it as the author intended!

Kat loves Halloween, and makes her own costume every year, but this year, "the menacing Dr S" has prevailed upon the powers that be to cancel Halloween, based on problems of vandalism and theft which have accompanied previous events. I strongly suspected Dr S of actually orchestrating those very events, and we soon learn why. Kat's grandmother - the only one who fully supported Kat's amizing costuming ambitions, feeds her a special home-made lollipop one evening which not only puts Kat to sleep, it transports her from her native Totsville to Treatsville, which is the town where the Halloween costumes live. Someone there, who looks remarkably like Dr S, is stealing those costumes for his own benefit, which in Treatsville, where the costumes have a life of their own, is nothing short of kidnapping!

Kat is hosted by Dolce, who frankly creeped me out despite her charming demeanor and her appealing looks. Dolce initially prevaricates about being a witch, and certainly doesn't behave or look like traditional witch, but later she describes herself as a "wee witch-in-training," and she explains to Kat why this young girl is so important to Treatsville's future - but can she brave the Forest of Fear, the Pits of Gloom, and the Swamp of Sorrow? Kat calls to herself costumes from previous Halloweens: The Jujitsu Princess, and The Candy Cane Witch, and with these trusty companions, she launches herself on this quest, bravely if cautiously, but with Preppy Pirate spying on them and Snaggletooth trying to kidnap all costumes and thwart (yes, thwart!) her quest, can she succeed? I guessed that she would!

I had an issue or two over some of the events in the story like this one: "...like when Ellie Byrd stepped on the end of a rake two years ago. A fish head attached to the handle flew in her face. She hasn’t been able to go near a hay maze since." I know that's meant to be scary and funny, but stepping on a rake can lead to puncture wounds that in turn necessitate a trip to the Doctor for a tetanus shot, or at the very least a painful whack in the face. Even if we assume it was a leaf rake it's still potentially dangerous. Could the author not have called it a hoe or a shovel or something less spikey? Or maybe had the fish-head come at her by some other means?

Minor complaints like that aside, I liked Kat's attitude and the sense of humor which pervaded this story, and some of the text was choice. How about this for a rich phrase: " A festering laugh", or this comment on vampires: "...if this vampire’s bite doesn’t kill me, his four-hundred-year-old breath will!" I loved that, and it's for those reasons I am rating this a worthy read for the intended age range.


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