Readers with a soft spot for gross-out humor will find plenty to keep them gagging in Rex’s latest novel (Fangbone! Third-Grade Barbarian, 2012) for the early-middle-grade set.
Told through a combination of vignettes about Ricky’s icky escapades and such “Time-Saving Tips” as how to turn toothpaste into a tasty sandwich spread, this novel is a fast-paced, enjoyable read—but not for the faint of heart. From earwax to booger bubbles to mango, french-fry and fish-stick soup, the ick-factor bar is set high. It is raised even higher by illustrations that capture Ricky in all his gross glory. And with the exception of one chapter in which Ricky stands up to the town bully, gross is what this book is all about. While there is nothing particularly new or clever about this series opener, Rex fans eager for another dose of his trademark brand of humor will walk away satisfied. Certainly there are young girls who might get a kick out of the image of Ricky turning in homework on a piece of cheese or crafting a bicycle helmet out of a watermelon, but the antics of the predominantly male cast of characters will most likely appeal to young boys. The format of the novel, with its numerous illustrations and short chapters, also makes it a good bet for reluctant readers.
Hits the gross-out sweet spot. (Fiction. 8-12)