The Awesome, Almost 100% True Adventures of Matt & Craz

The Awesome, Almost 100% True Adventures of Matt & Craz

4.0 4
by Alan Silberberg

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A magical pen causes creative chaos in this quirky, comic-style story from the Sid Fleischman Award–winning author of Milo.

Best friends Matt and Larry “Craz” Crazinski couldn’t be more different. Matt loves order, while Craz lives on the edge. The boys share a passion for cartooning, but thanks to the school paper gatekeeper (and

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A magical pen causes creative chaos in this quirky, comic-style story from the Sid Fleischman Award–winning author of Milo.

Best friends Matt and Larry “Craz” Crazinski couldn’t be more different. Matt loves order, while Craz lives on the edge. The boys share a passion for cartooning, but thanks to the school paper gatekeeper (and kind-of bully), Skip Turkle, it seems their cartoons will never be published.

But then the boys discover a pen that promises to help them DRAW BETTER NOW!—and quickly realize it’s no ordinary pen: Whatever they draw comes to life!

They start small with their drawings—bags of cash, cool gadgets. Next, they get their pesky English teacher to take a unique and extended vacation. But when the boys get a little bolder in their magical drawings, they realize that things don’t always end up as perfect as the art they create...

In this funny, slightly zany, and ultimately heartwarming story, Sid Fleischman Award–winner Alan Silberberg demonstrates the power of friendship—and that the best life is not always sketched out in advance.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Cartoons, text, and a hefty helping of magic convey the struggles of two best friends trying to find their place in middle school. Matt and Craz want to be cartoonists, but they can’t break into the clubby school newspaper. Hoping to up their game, they search online for better supplies and are mysteriously rewarded with a pen that can draw wishes into reality. After they inadvertently make a fortune by including a bag of money in their latest comic strip, their eyes grow wide with the new power they wield—ridding themselves of their nasty English teacher, for instance, by shipping her off to hang out with the pirates in her favorite book, Treasure Island. Silberberg (Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze) leavens the story’s nonsensical elements with several poignant subplots. Matt draws a cartoon that reunites his separated parents, but Craz’s wish for more shower time is less successful, erasing his four brothers and sisters. There’s plenty to chuckle at, even if the book, like its title, is a bit longer than it needs to be. Ages 9–13. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary Management. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Amy S. Hansen
Cartooning seems like a safe hobby for these two middle school kids. But they are unsuccessful in their quest to publish their work in the school paper—who could resist the zany humor of a poop-eating cat? Matt and Craz seemed doomed to cartoon in oblivion, but that was before a magical pen starts making stuff real. Anything you can draw you can have. Robots, pirates, and bees, (oh my) leap out of the well-plotted story of friends trying to fix their own real and perceived problems. I enjoyed the growth of both characters as they discovered their issues couldn't be covered by a cartoon band-aid, but could be addressed by some real thought. Ultimately the story is about friendship, finding options when none seem open, and trying new projects. The middle school Silberberg writes about sounds much like the one my son attends, though perhaps the lunches are better in the book. Overall, an enjoyable and unpredictable read that will appeal to adventure loving tweens. Reviewer: Amy S. Hansen
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Middle-schooler Matt Worfle is organized, careful, and a bit tightly wrapped. His best friend, Larry "Craz" Crazinski, is the opposite: impulsive and messy, but fun-loving. Together they create cartoons they hope to see published in the school newspaper. When they mysteriously receive a magical pen and ink bottle, the boys discover that they can rewrite reality through their comics. However, as they quickly learn, there are sometimes disastrous and unforeseen consequences. As the result of a mix-up in the hallway, the pen is lost to a rival cartoonist who mistakenly turns the members of the student council into aliens, prompting Craz to try to rectify the situation by unleashing a swarm of giant killer bees. Punctuated throughout with Silberberg's cartoon illustrations, Matt & Craz seems to occupy a place in the popular niche with James Patterson's "Middle School" series (Little, Brown) and Lincoln Peirce's "Big Nate" (HarperCollins). The story has some clever turns and at times poignantly captures the cusp of adolescence, such as a scene in which the boys create the perfect Saturday night, for Matt pizza and a movie with classmate Cindy Ockabloom; for Craz hanging out with unhinged superhero Captain G-Force. But overall, the style is inconsistent and the presentation unbalanced. The zany premise-the pen and ink arrive through an Internet search by way of an elusive yet ever-present mystery man-is offered with no explanation or justification. Yet elsewhere the story incongruously wants to be touching or instructive, with the boys learning the importance of their imperfect families and evolving friendship.—Bob Hassett, Luther Jackson Middle School, Falls Church, VA
Kirkus Reviews
It turns out that a book doesn't need to make a lick of sense if it has enough baboons and pirates and aliens. The lesson of this book appears to be: "Magic is bad." That might seem like an odd message for a fantasy novel, but actually, there's a long tradition of fantasy stories with an anti-magic theme. The classic example is "The Monkey's Paw," by W.W. Jacobs, in which a family's wishes come true with deadly, horrific results. Silberberg's novel is much less ominous, but after Matt and Craz buy a magic pen, everything they draw comes to life; before too long, their school is filled with alien invaders and gigantic killer bees. It's like "The Monkey's Paw" produced by Sid and Marty Krofft. And yet the two boys keep right on drawing animals and buccaneers. So maybe the real lesson of the book isn't "Magic is bad" but rather: "If your drawings come to life, for god's sake don't draw giant bees." Or to put it more simply: "Don't be an idiot." That's a valuable lesson for anyone. Readers may question Matt's and Craz's intelligence, but if the plot is short on sense, the jokes almost always work, and that's a more important brand of magic any day. (Humor. 9-13)

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Product Details

Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.84(w) x 8.36(h) x 1.12(d)
830L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 13 Years

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