First Paragraph(s): The rookie was preparing to sneak out of his room, even though he knew it was against regulations. He had overheard the plans for the mission. Plans that he knew wouldn’t work, but no one would listen to a mere rookie. The aliens invading his home planet of Oarg must be stopped. Three of the main cities of Oarg were in ruins and under the Wardoes’ control. No one even knew what they wanted, other than to destroy or enslave the inhabitants of Oarg. Scientists at the National Observatory first detected the Wardoes’ ships approaching Oarg last week. Officials set out a welcoming ship to meet the beings they were hoping would be new allies. The ship was destroyed and the Wardoes began a brutal invasion of the planet. Most of the inhabitants of Oarg fled to underground bunkers. The military was trying everything they could to stop the invasion, but the giant Wardoes were winning.
The rookie had been studying the invasion patterns and intercepting enemy communications. Using all of his mental skills, he hatched a desperate plan. He knew he had to do it alone, even if it meant a painful end for him. He had to save the planet.
Hello there, Esteemed Reader. Have you read Banneker Bones and the Giant Robot Bees yet? If not, you can get the ebook for free today and tomorrow.
David Radtke is at about the halfway point in recording the audiobook version and I can't wait for you to hear it. In the meantime, Banneker Bones 2 is coming right along and I've suddenly become obsessed with writing a new and probably very long horror story. Both of those will be available soon enough, but I've been neglectful in promoting Banneker 1 as I figure there's plenty of time for that when sequel hits. That's a bad Ninja! Being an author means I can't just do the fun part of writing the book. I also have to promote it.
I'm trying to be better, so I've done some upcoming interviews and I've started looking for bloggers to review the book. This is how I came across one of my new favorite book blogs, This Kid Reviews Books. Seriously, you've got to check out this blog. Today's a good day as Erik is reviewing my book the same day I'm reviewing his, almost like we planned it:)
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little jealous of Erik Weibel. He's a published author and he runs a blog filled with more reviews than mine that are possibly more insightful than mine. Oh, and he's only eleven.
What a world we live in where an eleven-year-old can reach out to his favorite authors and no one can stop him from publishing his own book. I like to think (old guy alert) that if I'd had access to the internet or today's publishing tools when I was eleven, I might've done something similar. But the truth is Erik Weibel is a much better writer than I was at eleven and he clearly has a level of discipline I absolutely lacked.
Let me be clear: I'm all for supporting writers of every age, but I'm still not reviewing any book that's not well edited, formatted, or that hasn't got a good looking cover:) I may not comment on the negative qualities of each week's book, but I don't write pity reviews. So when I tell you that The Adventures Of Tomato and Pea is a fun book that kept me engaged and made me laugh, I don't mean it was a pretty good book for an eleven-year-old. I mean it's a good book that happens to be written by an eleven-year-old. The Adventures Of Tomato and Pea was head and shoulders above a lot of traditionally published books I've read written by much older writers.
That being said, let's get to it. The Adventures of Tomato and Pea Book1: A Bad Idea is an adventure in the style of a larger-than-life comic book about a sidekick protagonist (sort of an interplanetary Nick Carroway) who tells us the exploits of a bolder character that crusades about on a jet pack with gadgets. Obviously, this is a story after my own heart and I wonder if Erik chuckled at the similarities between our tales as he reviewed my book (I don't know as we made a pact to release our reviews at the same time).
I could spend another paragraph or two outlining the characters and their conflict, but Mr. Weibel does such a fine and succinct job of it early on that I'll let him take this one:
Wintergreen wasn’t always bad. There was a time when he wanted to be a ballerina. But being the only boy who wanted to be a ballerina was hard, and the other Smidges at school (Smidges are the beings on our planet) made fun of him. Oh, who am I kidding?!? He was always bad! From the time he blew up the meatloaf in the school cafeteria to the time he took over the Main Machine Plant in order to control all the machines on the planet! He is a rotten Smidge! He would have taken over our planet Oarg by now if Tomato hadn’t stopped him.
See, Tomato is Oarg’s greatest crime-stopper. I guess you could call him a hero. Tomato doesn’t have any super powers but he is real smart and he can kick some serious butt. He stops bad guys even when he’s outnumbered! He even single handedly stopped the giant Wardoes when they invaded Oarg! After he did that, he became our planet’s hero.
Wintergreen has been trying to get rid of Tomato for as long as I can remember. He figured with Tomato gone he could easily take over the whole planet instead of being stuck out in Misery Swamp. That’s pretty much why we are all in the trouble we are in now. Who am I? OH! Sorry, I forgot! My name is Pea. I am Tomato’s best friend.
There's a lot of action and adventure and chases and a whole lotta laughs. The story never takes itself too seriously, but takes itself seriously enough to tell an engaging story. Through a lot of fun turns of events, Tomato, Pea, and the wonderful cast of additional sidekicks and villains find themselves crash landed on a planet very familiar to the reader: ours. Except, on earth, the larger-than-life Tomato is the size of a bug.
I don't want to give the whole thing away, but it's a fun story to be enjoyed by children and adults and one of the best books I've read so far this year. Weibel has a flare for description and a very active imagination. He's sly and much of the humor comes from his self-aware style of presenting characters and events. Note the way our villain displays both vanity and an awareness of the narration:
Wintergreen, dressed in a business suit, paced back and forth inside his secret lair deep within Misery Swamp. He saw his reflection in the window. He admired how his blue skin coordinated so well with the suit he had on.
I’m more of a blueish-green, he thought to himself. He studied how he looked. He hated it when others said he looked similar to Tomato. It is true they have the same straight body and horns angled out of their heads, but that’s where the similarities end. “I’m much taller than that loser, and WAY more handsome,” he declared.
Wintergreen quickly became my favorite character and I suspect he might be Weibel's as well. He's not going to win and a part of him seems to know it, but he's got heart:
“This is perfect!” Wintergreen smiled. “It IS going to work this time!”
Pye spoke up next. “Not to be too negative here, Mr. W, but it never seems to work. Like the time you tried to get Tomato to-”
“It WILL work this time!” Wintergreen interrupted. “My plan is fool-proof. We simply have to get Tomato and his friends on to the rocket. THAT’S IT! JUST GET THEM ON THE ROCKET! The ship is already programmed to take them into a black hole where they will meet their DOOM! MWAHAHAHAAA!
Fair warning: this book ends on a cliff hanger with a promise of more adventure to come in Book 2. That's all good and well, but Book 1 was released in August of 2013 and I'm writing this review in March of 2015. I hope we'll get another round of Tomato and Pea soon. I promise to review it here as soon as it's available.
If you're a writer, and you're here so odds are good you are, surely you've wondered what sort of book your target audience would publish if they could. I'd say any middle grade writer not watching out for Erik Weibel and other writers his age (there's not many of them, but they're out there) is doing themselves a great disservice. And any reader looking for an enjoyable story guaranteed to make them laugh is doing themselves a great disservice if they don't read The Adventures of Tomato and Pea.
That's going to do it. Make sure you find yourself back here on Friday when Erik Weibel becomes the youngest author ever to face the 7 Questions. As always, I'll leave you with some of my favorite passages from The Adventures of Tomato and Pea:
He held a gasp in as he realized it was his own shadow on the bay wall. He paused for a moment to look at it as if he was looking in a mirror. His body was perfectly straight except for the two horns formed out of the top of his head at an angle. He smiled to himself. “I kind of look like the letter ‘Y’.”
We all got on our scooters and headed off for Aero City Port #8 and or BIG ADVENTURE!
Tomato skillfully picked the lock and the door swung open. Our jaws dropped open when we saw the three villains clinging together wide-eyed, screaming and yelling at each other. “Wintergreen? Is that you? What are you doing here? I thought this was a cruise for outstanding citizens, not outstanding criminals,” Tomato said.
Wintergreen roared, “YOU DOLT! YOU HAVE NO— Did you just call me outstanding?”
The library was humongous. Huge shelves stacked with books with strange titles lined the walls. “Look, over there,” Tomato whispered pointing to a very large desk. “That female creature must be the commander of this book depository. The minions at their work terminals must be doing something top secret because the commander keeps SHUSHING them and won’t allow them to communicate with each other.
STANDARD DISCLAIMER: Book of the Week is simply the best book I happened to read in a given week. There are likely other books as good or better that I just didn’t happen to read that week. Also, all reviews here will be written to highlight a book’s positive qualities. It is my policy that if I don’t have something nice to say online, I won’t say anything at all (usually). I’ll leave you to discover the negative qualities of each week’s book on your own.