In the first intallment of National Book Award winner M.T. Anderson’s Pals in Peril series, a madman has unleashed an army of stilt-walking, laser-beaming, thoroughly angry whales upon the world! Luckily, Jasper Dash and his friends Katie Mulligan and Lily Gefelty are around to save the day.
Sure, Lily Gefelty is just an average twelve-year-old girl. But her dad—a normal-enough-seeming guy—just so happens to work for an evil genius who plans to unleash an army of extremely cranky, stilt-walking, laser-beam-eyed whales upon the world.
Lucky for Lily, her two best friends are anything but average. Both of them are famous for their adventures. Jasper Dash, Boy Technonaut, invents gadgets; Katie Mulligan spends her spare time fighting off zombies and were-goats. Surely they’ll know what to do. And if they don’t? Then it will be up to Lily—average, everyday Lily—to come up with a plan.
An intrepid trio must defeat an insidious plan to use whales (equipped with metal stilts and laser-beam eyes) in a takeover of the state capital and then the world! in this highly wacky novel. Anderson (The Serpent Came to Gloucester, reviewed above) sets a comic tone from the start: "On Career Day Lily visited her dad's work and discovered he worked for a mad scientist who wanted to rule the earth through destruction and desolation." Lily's father, like all the adults in the novel, is blissfully unconcerned about the ludicrous events going on around him (e.g., his boss, Larry, wears a grain sack over his head and extends a blue, rubbery hand when he meets Lily). Her father dismisses the heroine's fears when Larry pronounces that he plans to literally "take over the world" ("Honey, sometimes adults use irony. They don't really mean what they say"). Introspective, shy Lily then turns to her two more brazen friends, each the subject of a successful children's book series (the book's humor is very self-referential for instance, awkward Harcourt writers follow them around asking for details of their exploits). Armed with an array of adjectives, non-sequiturs, bizarre asides, irrelevant footnotes and running gags, Anderson sends up decades of children's book series, and creates a hysterical tale of his own. Cyrus's meticulously rendered black-and-white illustrations riff on comic books and '50s-era advertisements, escalating the humor factor in this highly accessible volume. Ages 10-up.