I picked the first two books of the Something Wickedly Weird series at a library sale for a dollar apiece some time back. I enjoy illustrated chapter books and figured they would be handy to have around for the kids. My wife recently pulled them off the shelf and was planning on reading them just to see what they were about. Needing a quick and light read while fighting a cold I decided to check them out as well.
I started with The Wooden Mile:
Something Wickedly Weird is most definitely here! Crampton Rock seems like a lovely seaside town…at least until dark. When eleven-year-old Stanley Buggles inherits a house from a mysterious uncle he didn’t know he had, he also inherits a mystery and some strange and sinister new neighbors. The questions begin to pile up: Why are all the dogs in town three-legged? Why is no one on the streets after dark? Is it true that the man who runs the candy shop is a werewolf? And why do those shoemakers look an awful lot like pirates? With the help of Mrs. Carelli, a housekeeper, and a talking stuffed fish, Stanley begins to unravel the mysteries that haunt his great-uncle’s death and have set their sights on him. A thrilling, spooky, and funny read, and the first installment of a kid-pleasing new series.
This series seemed like such a good fit: engagingly illustrated chapter books with quirky setting… but this book left me cold.
Perhaps, this is where my inability to fairly judge books for younger readers comes into play. The Wooden Mile seemed a little too simplistic and easy to me. There are creative elements and fun characters (and the illustrations) but things just seem to move a little too quickly and come together a little too easily.
Plus, the lead character Stanley seemed a little flat (Get it?). He doesn’t have much a personality and wasn’t developed enough to really a have a sense of who is and what motivates him, etc.
It is a quick and energetic read, however, and as I noted there are some clever aspects (the talking fish and the Jekyll and Hyde scenario) so perhaps I am just too old for these books. I will have my kids check them out since they are the target audience to begin with.