With the wickedly fun undertones of Roald Dahl's The Witches, Horowitz (The Switch, reviewed below) imagines that stooped, child-hating grannies are out to take over the world. To do it, they need Jordan Warden, aka Joe, a filthy rich 12-year-old who lives in London with his self-obsessed mother; his cold, can't-be-bothered father; and a quartet of odd but affectionate servants. Joe's Granny-a kleptomaniac with peculiar eating habits-sets out to kidnap him, and Joe ends up in a hotel full of old ladies assembled for the Golden Granny Awards (one prize is for longest time spent boarding a bus). They are also clamoring for his youthful enzymes. Of course, to get those enzymes, Joe has to die. Horowitz resorts to the lights-going-out-at-the-right-moment trick to get Joe out of his predicament, but even that old chestnut doesn't detract from the excitement. Although some parents may cringe at the blackness of the humor, kids who can shudder through the explosions will love the campy ending. Ages 8-12. (Jan.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Ellen Welty
Joe Warden is a not so average kid with everything, or so it seems. His parents are rich but self-absorbed and uninterested in him. His best allies are servants, until they start dying at the hands of Joe's creepy granny and her mean granny friends. In this book that will remind readers of James and the Giant Peach or A Series of Unfortunate Events, Joe is left in Granny's care while his parents are away and she takes him to a granny resort. The old ladies have a plan to extract Joe's youthful enzymes and use them to regain their happiness and youth. Of course, Joe will have to die in order for them to get his enzymes. At the very last moment, as Joe is confined in a strait jacket waiting his fate, the lights in the resort go out, leaving the hall full of grannies in the dark and Joe is freed by a mysterious rescuer. The dark humor will not be appropriate for all readers but those who enjoy Roald Dahl will relish the creepiness of the old ladies, particularly Granny, and will delight in the well deserved end. Reviewer: Ellen Welty