Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Uncanny Express (The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters Book 2)

This is the second book for the Bland Sisters by Kara LaReau and illustrated by Jen Hill. Aimed at middle readers, this clever book is full of wordplay and puns which will also appeal to adults and would make a fine family read-together.

The writing is simple and often silly and uses the blandness of the unadventursome sisters (they love to eat cheese sandwiches on dry day old bread with flat soda whilst they darn other people's socks) to explore concepts of family, loyalty and going outside of our comfort zones.

The overarching story has Jaundice and Kale's (*snicker*) absentee parents sending them first on an adventure (The Jolly Regina - book 1 of the series) where they're captured by pirates and more, and then, just when they escape and think their world is safe for darning socks and deep cleaning the bathroom, they receive a mysterious note to go and meet their Aunt Shallot at the Dullsville train station.

I try to avoid comparing books or authors to other books (or authors) but the story itself reminds me in a lot of very good ways as a sort of Lemony Snickett and Roald Dahl mashup. There are so many fun mystery and adventure tropes that it's fun to try and identify them but that doesn't detract from the plotline or enjoyment of the mystery (on a train! with a collection of suspects!).

The art is nostalgic, rendered in pen and ink and adds a lot of depth and character to the book.  Each of the chapter headings has a little drawing and quote from whichever book the sisters are reading at the time.   The drawn panels and margin drawings comprise roughly 15-20% of the book and are all amusing and illustrate the story well.

Quite a lot of fun, with a decent amount of appeal to grown-ups as well (and the opposite of saccharine/sweet).

Four stars
Anticipated release date:

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher.

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