Rare Beasts

Rare Beasts

4.4 19
by Charles Ogden, Rick Carton
     
 

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Fire ants. Fraud. Footie pajamas.

Twins Edgar and Ellen live alone -- their parents disappeared years ago, and who can blame them? -- in the quaint, little town of Nod's Limbs, in a grim, gray house overlooking the cemetery and the junkyard. They spend their days avoiding Heimertz, the mysterious accordion-playing caretaker; pestering Pet, a hairy,See more details below

Overview

Fire ants. Fraud. Footie pajamas.

Twins Edgar and Ellen live alone -- their parents disappeared years ago, and who can blame them? -- in the quaint, little town of Nod's Limbs, in a grim, gray house overlooking the cemetery and the junkyard. They spend their days avoiding Heimertz, the mysterious accordion-playing caretaker; pestering Pet, a hairy, one-eyed creature of indeterminate species and gender; and wreaking havoc on the hapless citizens of Nod's Limbs.

But wreaking havoc can incur expenses, so the twins come up with a unique fund-raising scheme: They'll nab the pets of Nod's Limbs and transform them into exotic animals they can sell for big bucks. Not a bad plan, if one of the purloined pets wasn't a lethargic python with a raging appetite....

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This somewhat derivative farce launches the Edgar & Ellen series starring 12-year-old twins. The two live in a grimy, gloomy mansion with Pet, "a matted ball of long, dark hair, similar in appearance to an old dirty wig"; Pet is also one-eyed, as the nifty lenticular eye affixed to the book's cover stresses. In the absence of any parents, the siblings spend their days harassing each other and plotting ways to create "mischief and mayhem." Learning from TV that collectors pay high prices for exotic animals, the diabolic duo devise a money-raising scheme to fund various elaborate pranks (e.g., dumping sacks of white pepper into muffin batter at a bakery). After purloining the neighbors' pets, the two use paint, glitter and Christmas decorations previously nabbed from other people's yards to transform the animals into "rare beasts." They then display the critters in a puppet theater that they've stolen from a kindergarten classroom and pull the menagerie through town on an old cart. The pace lags considerably as Edgar and Ellen try unsuccessfully to sell the ridiculous-looking creatures to the townsfolk before the neighborhood kids-red-eyed from crying over their missing pets-blow the whistle on the twins' nefarious doings. First-time author Ogden's outlandish, hyperbolic humor recalls Lemony Snicket's tales of woe, yet this narrative's intermittent slapstick quality falls flat. Final artwork not seen by PW. Ages 9-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Book cover illustrations often reveal the setting for the drama within a book and serve to capture young reader's curiosity. A glimpse at this facade features a tall, narrow, gray mansion with its face-like structural design that appears to have a daunting mystical third eye above two high arched windows and is capped with iron spikes jutting up from the roof. The images of scrawny twins, Edgar and Ellen, with their pale angular faces, black hair, and bulging eyes previews their ratty behavior. Another eye-the lenticular, yellowish eyeball belongs to Pet, whose other features are obscured due to its matted ball of long, dark hair. He lives with the twins but avoids the antics of his merciless masters. Open the book and meet the twelve-year-old scheming, mischievous twins, living alone since their parents departed on an extended holiday, and who hatch a plan to lurk and slink through the Nod's Limbs neighborhood nabbing all "the worth their weight in gold" pets, and then reselling the disguised creatures for outrageous fees to finance future pranks. Ironically their moneymaking tactics are foiled, while unbeknownst to them, Pet is a rare, exotic, and lucrative creature in their world. Credit the author's clever plot chucked full of rhyming lyrics, fun with words, and fiendish vocabulary combined with the illustrator's creative-pen and-ink images to create this first-in-a-series Edgar and Alice publication. A website (http://www.EdgarAndEllen.com/) offers information and a teacher's guide with curriculum-based activities. Look for next title "Tourist Trap" in spring, 2004. A humorous quick-read (110-page chapter book) for middle readers! 2003, Tricycle Press, Ages 9 to 12.
—Barbara Troisi
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Twelve-year-old twins Edgar and Ellen live alone in the weirdest, most depressing house in the town of Nod's Limbs. Well, almost alone-they have Pet, a greasy, one-eyed hairball creature that doesn't do much, and the twins prefer livelier victims. With no interfering parents around, they spend their time playing their own version of hide-and-seek, where the finder gets to torture the hider, using a startling variety of techniques from simple ropes and tripwires to swinging pendulums straight out of Edgar Allan Poe. The siblings are plotting an attack on a neighboring town, but they need cash for battle supplies so they decide to open an exotic-animal business. Lacking any real bizarre beasts to sell, the terrible two stage a raid on the town; kidnap the local pets; and dress them up with feathers, glue, glitter, and paint, and then offer the grotesque creatures back to the townspeople at preposterous prices. The book aspires to be a deadpan mock-gothic in the mold of Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" (HarperCollins), but the action here is just mean-spirited. There is a disturbing edge of explicit cruelty, particularly to animals. Edgar and Ellen are unrelievedly amoral, and they show neither remorse nor regret for their actions. The eerie black-and-white Charles Addamsesque illustrations add a touch of grim humor, but they're not enough to lighten this dark tale.-Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781442408494
Publisher:
Aladdin
Publication date:
12/08/2009
Series:
Edgar & Ellen , #1
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
144
File size:
4 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Rare Beasts


By Charles Ogden

Aladdin

Copyright © 2005 Charles Ogden
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1416914099

It Begins. . .

The warm night air had a weight to it and hung over the town like a dirty wet dishcloth. It was very late, well past midnight, and the only sounds were the steady chirping of crickets and the occasional hooting of owls.

Down by the river, two shadowy figures danced across the roof of a covered bridge. Flailing their arms and legs about to keep their balance on the steep pitch, they formed whirling silhouettes against the night sky.

"Watch out, Sister, you're getting it all over me!"

"Well, if you had remembered a flashlight, I'd be able to see what I was doing, Brother."

"Oh, you can see as well as me. You're doing it on purpose."

"Oops!" said Ellen as she dragged her brush across Edgar's face.

"You'll be sorry you did that," he muttered, red paint dripping from the tip of his chin.

"Hush, I'm almost done."

Ellen finished the last letter, and stood back to make sure she had spelled everything properly.

"You forgot the exclamation point!" said Edgar as he dumped what was left in the paint can over his sister's head.

Edgar and Ellen tackled each other and tumbled off the roof, splashing into the water below. Standing in the waist-high river, soaking wet, with red paint flowing as if they were bleeding from terrible wounds, the twins admired their work.

"I like it, Brother."

"It's certainly better than it was before, Sister."

They cackled over the sounds of crickets and owls and crept home.

Copyright ©2003 by Star Farm Productions, LLC.

Chapter 1: Welcome to Nod's Limbs, Friend

For the most part, Nod's Limbs was a lovely place to live. It wasn't a big town, but it wasn't small either. It was, quite simply, an upstanding community of historic landmarks and charming shopping malls. The Running River cut through the center of town, although it really should have been called the Walking Stream or the Crawling Trickle since it wasn't very wide and didn't flow very fast. Seven covered bridges allowed people and cars to cross the river, and the townspeople were very proud of their covered bridges. It's rare to see one covered bridge in a town these days, and Nod's Limbs had seven. They looked like big red barns spanning the river, identical except for what was painted on their roofs.

Each had two words painted in big white block letters, one word on each side. If you were traveling the length of Florence Boulevard, each bridge added another word to a message, and the message was different depending on which direction you were traveling. From east to west, the roofs read WELCOME FRIEND TO NOD'S LIMBS STAY AWHILE. From west to east they said COME BACK SOON FRIEND AND TAKE CARE. However, since you could enter Nod's Limbs from the west as easily as from the east, and leave in either direction as well, sometimes these messages made sense and sometimes they didn't. But though you might be wished WELCOME as you left and greeted with COME BACK SOON as you entered, the residents of Nod's Limbs didn't mind because they thought it looked quaint.

But no matter how respectable a town is, when it's large enough, it usually develops what the locals call the "right side of town" and the "wrong side of town."

The "right side of town" is where the honest, hardworking citizens live. The streets are clean, the lawns are manicured, and people walk around with smiles on their faces and a kind word for their neighbors. On the "wrong side of town," however, people don't look each other in the eye when passing in the street. It's where the disreputable people live, such as those who would deface public property -- those who would take the sweet greetings of their town and alter them to say mean things like WELCOME FIENDS TO SMELLY NOD'S LIMBS DON'T FEED THE ANIMALS and DON'T COME BACK HERE EVER EVER EVER. The streets here are covered in trash and dirt, and the houses are dark, dilapidated, and terribly unpleasant.

Nod's Limbs was large enough to have a "right side" and a "wrong side," and you might think that both "sides" of the town would be about the same size. Not so in Nod's Limbs.

"An honest day's work for an honest day's pay" was the credo of most of the town's citizens, and because of this dedication, just about the whole of Nod's Limbs could be considered the "right side."

All, that is, except for one small block on the far end of town.

Copyright ©2003 by Star Farm Productions, LLC.

Continues...


Excerpted from Rare Beasts by Charles Ogden Copyright © 2005 by Charles Ogden. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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