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Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Templeton Twins Have an Idea, written by Ellis Weiner and illustrated by Jeremy Holmes. Chronicle Books, Raincoast Books Canada. 201. $18.99 ages 9 and up

"A hobby, which is an old-fashioned word people don't use anymore, refers to something you do simply because you like it and find it interesting and fulfilling. You don't get paid to do it. You don't get extra credit in school for doing it. You don't do it because you want to impress your friends or look good when you apply for university or a job."
 There is a lot of zaniness involved in reading this comical and at times, endearing adventure about twins John and Abigail. Many readers will find great enjoyment as the twins lead the way in dealing with the dilemma that presents itself when an old student of their professor father's starts making noise about sharing the glory for a brand new invention that is sure to turn the world on its ear.

The twins are wise and full of self-confidence and wit. The narrator has a unique and full of fun voice that will keep even the most reluctant on course as they navigate the action created by Ellis Weiner in this first book of a new series. He definitely leaves his readers wanting more; they will keep a keen eye out for the next instalment.

There is a smattering of mystery, some interactive chapter endings, asking irrelevant and irreverent questions that will have some readers howling at the absurdity of it all. It's just what the doctor ordered for this age group. They will cheer for the twins and their father as he faces former student Dean D. Dean who insists Professor Templeton has stolen his idea for the Personal One-Man Helicopter. The professor is just as adamant that he has done nothing of the kind. Did he or didn't he?

I think that Jeremy Holmes gets the artwork exactly right, to keep kids interested in this quirky pair and following their fast paced adventure. They are very unusual individuals, as are the other characters. The changing background colors, the set of questions at the end of each chapter, the changing fonts and the many quirky captions and conversations that are inserted here and there grab their attention and keep them reading.

The irreverence of the sometimes aggressive narrator, the occasional stops to include something felt absolutely necessary at that particular place in the story and the inclusion of the meatloaf recipe had me 'har-haring'. I  know the same will happen for the middle graders who pick this book up, in hopes of a fun story to entertain them.
Here's one of my favorite quotes from the narrator, and entirely typical of the many intrusions created:

"If you don’t remember me saying that, I urge you to turn back to Chapter 2 (the first Chapter 2) and refresh your memory, because I distinctly remember saying it, and I remember you reading it.”

Bring on the next adventure, please!

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