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Friday, July 27, 2012

Fake Mustache, written by Tom Angleberger and illustrated by Jen Wang. Amulet, Canadian Manda Group. 2012. $14.95 ages 10 and up

"Inside was a huge factory floor with lots of machines and wires and conveyor belts. There was this big system of chutes that seemed to be carrying liquid snot. A machine nearest me had doors that slammed closed every few seconds. Then there'd be a whooshing sound. Then the doors would open again, and a whoopee cushion would fall out onto a conveyor belt."

Well, this is the third book that I have recently read from the pen of the prolific and very funny Tom Angleberger. While I am not a middle grade reader looking for comedy, lots of action and nonsense, surprises and very peculiar characters, I certainly understand the appeal!

I have a list of readers who will find in Fake Mustache the absurdity of a funny story well told. The author uses variety in form to tackle a number of plot twists. He uses two voices to flesh out his story of bank robbery, domination and politics.

When Lenny and Casper enter Sven's Fair Price Store intent on buying something from a long list of available products, Lenny is quick to advise:

I recommend it if you want to buy fake tattoos, fake noses, fake thumbs, fake eyelashes, fake tuxedo shirts, fake books that have secret compartments, fake laughter machines, fake fog makers, fake feet, fake teeth that you wind up, fake teeth that you stick in your mouth, fake gum that snaps people's fingers, fake dog poop, fake people poop."

But, he cautions the reader against one particular item:

"But the fake mustaches are just too good."

It's a lesson learned too late. Casper borrows money from Lenny to buy the Heidelberg Handlebar Number Seven. That is just the beginning of a roller-coaster ride that boasts bank robbery, passing the buck, hypnotism, and political upheaval. That mustache seems to be all Casper needs to take control of his country and then the world! Is that really all you need?
Pretty funny, well told and introducing a first person voice that leaves readers wondering if there is some other novelty in Sven's shop that might spark a dilemma of unbelievable proportions. What about the Nasal gun? Does it have some unique purpose in the real world?

While breezing through the relentless action, take time to note Jen Wang's wacky black-and-white illustrations that give readers a true sense of some of the ongoing mayhem. Be sure to check out the many mustache choices you might have if you happen to visit Sven's.

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