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)