Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Courtyard Lullaby by Loreena McKennitt.
My reviews are a bit different than most. As an undercover superhero (ordinary girl extraordinaire), my purpose is to try and uncover hidden gems lost from the familiar radar. Because of this, I have set up some guidelines for myself (just like the pirate code). :)
I will focus on YA and Children's literature (with very rare exceptions).
I will not review any book that is one of the top 25,000 bestselling books (based on Amazon ranks).
I will try and aim for books 100,000 or larger.
I will review recent books or books of great merit (preferably both).
The Butler Gets a Break by Kristin Clark Venuti
Published: October 12, 2010
Publisher: Egmont USA
Current Amazon Rank: #1,082,866
Author's Website: Here
Want it? Find it here.
The First Line:
How on EARTH does this have such a low amazon ranking? Really, how? Seeing it in the 1,00,000 mark when it just came out last year makes my heart sad. Because really, this is a sweet and positively adorable book, you guys. Check it out of the library if not buying it outright (I sure as heck am).
This is a second in (hopefully) an ongoing series of the most eccentric family you've ever seen and the butler who holds them all together. We have Spider, the fourteen-year-old boy who loves animals, but only if they are endangered and can possibly decapitate or poison you in some way. Then there's Ninda, who loves to help people, even if it is against their will. The mad scientist father (in every sense of the word) and the artist mother who will never stop painting. Oh, and the triplets who love general mayhem and destruction and call it art. In the first, Leaving the Bellweathers, Tristan Benway is about to do just that. But by the end (and I don't think this is a surprise for anyone considering the title of this book), he decides to stay. But the triplets are up to their usual antics, making art with chainsaws and other such harmless devices. This time they are focusing on "negative space" - literally - as Benway soon accidentally discovers when he falls down a rather large hole in the stairs and breaks his leg.
While he is recovering and they feeling terrible, the family tries to find a temporary replacement because they really cannot function without Benway. But, it turns out, for some strange reason, no one will take them on. So... they make up a pretend butler so Benway can make a full recovery without worrying. But in their trying to hide the truth from one of their most loved members of their family, this "new" butler seems all too perfect, and Benway begins to wonder if he was ever needed at all, even as things are falling apart at the seams.
I love the further development of this story, and the small hints of growth seen in all of the characters. It's subtle, but wonderful. And the trouble they get into! Before, Benway had to deal with a rather snippy albino aligator. This time, it is viscous man-attacking squirrels. I love the added depth to the characters continuing from the first book (and we find out our rather prim butler is quite the die-hard for soap operas). ;) As one point of growth, Spider tries to reign in the attack-squirrels that are now on the loose himself (though that is not entirely his fault, as you will see). And there are many more antics to boot from all members of this wonderful family.
This story is sweet, hilarious, and endearing. I really love it. Granted, I don't like whenever the triplets talk they talk in ALL CAPS. However. It does make a strong impression when they start whispering and the hairs begin to rise on the back your neck because you know they are Up To No Good. Really, I love this story. I love this series. I want there to be more of them but I am not sure how likely that is given the poor selling of this latest one. This is definitely a hidden gem in every sense of the word. This is reason why I do these reviews. This book is... so good. It should have never fallen to the wayside.
The Final Word: Love the characters, love the story. It is sweet, eccentric, and endearing. Randomness abounds. Hilarity ensues, all while warming your heart. Definite recommend.