~by David Michael Slater
2008 Cybil Award Nominee
The Book of Nonsense is the first volume in the literary fantasy series Sacred Books written by David Michael Slater and published by Children's Brains Are Yummy. (Isn't that an absolutely fantastic name for a publisher?) According to their website, they're not afraid of taking some risks with their publications and even aim towards "creating the banned books of tomorrow." Time will tell whether or not The Book of Nonsense and the the rest of the series will fall into that category, but I can definitely see how it could.
Daphna and Dexter are about to turn thirteen. Their father, who has been away all summer book scouting, returns just in time for their birthday, but becomes increasingly distant. The twins suspect that it has something to do with a bizarre book that he found during his travels and the even stranger buyer--the owner of the newly established Antiquarian Book Center. The old man and his assistant, a bully by the name of Emmet, take an extraordinary amount of interest in the book as well as a peculiar interest in Daphne and Dexter. The siblings quickly realize that their family may be in danger and that they must work together to discover the truth about the book and about themselves.
Overall, The Book of Nonsense was a good book, although some of the characterizations, especially that of Emmet, seemed at times to be inconsistent if not incomplete. Even Daphne and Dexter came across as one-sided. However, Daphne's love of books is brilliantly clear and I, as a fellow book lover, enjoyed and appreciated that immensely. Dexter was slightly less convincing, particularly in regards to his big secret, but he most certainly qualifies as an accurate representation of a thirteen-year-old boy if my brother served as any sort of an example.
The book definitely feels like the first installment of a series (which of course, it is) with quite a bit of information crammed in as an introduction to the world. It took a bit for the pacing to really catch on, but by the end the plot moves along nicely. There were quite a few surprising twists thrown in that made the story engaging, although it was somewhat slow going to begin with. But, the twists were great and the twins, especially Dexter, quite clever. While the book was a quick, fun read and fairly enjoyable, I personally didn't find myself to be particularly taken with it, despite some of the very cool ideas being explored. The Book of Nonsense and the following books in the series probably will hold the most appeal for readers in middle school or junior high. Daphne and Dexter's adventures continue in The Infinite.