Silly at its best

secret1_tnThe Name of This Book Is Secret, Pseudonymous Bosch (2007), Little, Brown, 360 pp.

It was the author’s name that first attracted me to this book. Very clever, I thought. The conceit continues – “this book is dangerous”, “no real names used here”, “even the location is disguised”. It’s the kind of set up that would appeal to middle school readers, and Bosch never disappoints.

We have two children – Cass, a girl who goes nowhere without her go-bag*, and Max-Ernest, a boy who wants to be a stand-up comic. We have important adults – two men who run an antique shop (Cass’s unofficial grandfathers), teachers, a real estate agent. We have the villains – a pair of skeezy adults who cross Cass’s path too often. And we have a magician who has disappeared.

Items from the magician’s abandoned home arrive in the antiques shop, and the chase begins. The villains are chasing after an immortality potion, while the kids are trying to stop them. (Perhaps this calls for a future post on what the prevalence of this set up might mean.)

Two things I like about this book. One, it’s clever and funny (always worth a few points on my readability scale). Two, the grandfathers are gay, but no big deal is made of this by any of the characters or by the author.

There are 5 books in this series. Tomorrow’s post will reveal the next 4.

*Go-bag: emergency preparedness materials, collected in one bag for easy and quick access in whatever emergency arises.

About Lizzie Ross

in no particular order: author, teacher, cyclist, world traveler, single parent. oh, and i read. a lot.
This entry was posted in Fantasy, Humorous, Mystery and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Silly at its best

  1. calmgrove says:

    I’ve seen this author in bookshelves but never bothered to pick up a title as I assumed the clever-clever pseudonym may have been as far as wit goes. I can see I was wrong! Look forward to your assessments on the other books.

    I also usually assume that characters’ names aren’t random but have a significance (‘nominative determinism’ is the term I’ve seen bandied about when, for example, a brain specialist is called Dr Head). On this basis, Cass may be Cassandra, who foretells the future (hence Cass’ go-bag, ready for all eventualities), while Max-Earnest may be a reference to the surrealist artist Max Ernst who saw the world as funny-peculiar (as opposed to funny-haha). Does your reading bear this out, Lizzie?


  2. Lizzie Ross says:

    Hmmm. ‘Nominative Determinism.’ For Cass (indeed, short for Cassandra), the connection comes in how rarely anyone believes her. In Max-Ernest’s case, his family situation throughout the series is definitely surreal — but in a funny-haha way that kids would appreciate. The villainess is named Ms. Mauvais — dead give-away there. But I have to warn you: ‘ND’ aside, reading these books will make you suspicious of anyone wearing gloves.

    And another thing: evidently Max Ernst was influenced by Hieronymous Bosch: double Obscure Reference (another function of character names) hit.


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