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Whales on Stilts!: M. T. Anderson's Thilling Tales    by M. T. Anderson & Kurt Cyrus order for
Whales on Stilts!
by M. T. Anderson
Order:  USA  Can
Harcourt, 2006 (2006)

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* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

A book has never before made me laugh as hard as M. T. Anderson's Whales on Stilts! did. Accompanied by Kurt Cyrus's clever line drawings, this first installment of M. T. Anderson's Thrilling Tales was a laugh-riot from beginning to end perfect for its middle-reader audience.

Lily Gefelty feels like she is never noticed by anyone especially when she is around her two best friends, Katie Mulligan and Jasper Dash, who both have best-selling (fictional) children's book series written about them (although, in a bit of anachronism that adds to the humor, Jasper's books were popular during the 1950s). However, everything changes on Career Day when Lily realizes her father works for a mysterious mad scientist who is making stilts for whales. Enlisting the help of her two adventurous best friends, Lily sets off to find out what her dad's boss is up to, and then to stop him from taking over the world.

In addition to the anachronistic nature of Jasper Dash's fame, Anderson generously throws in many other bits of humor - from rambling off topic about things that have supposedly happened in his life, to off-the-wall dictionary definitions that add to a running gag. Also, don't forget to read the reader's guide and author interview which will lead to a hysterical book discussion.

Anderson really knows how to hit the middle-reader audience. If the jokes and gags do not get them (which I am sure they will) kids of this age will relate to Lily's character. She has that wonderful mix of shyness and tenacity that is a mainstay of a solid middle-reader main character. Whales on Stilts! offers a welcome diversion from required reading, which will make it a hit during summer vacation, because everyone can use a good laugh.

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