Anyone who reads this blog knows that I love music–all kinds of music. So how did I wind up with a seven-year old who is indifferent to music. It took going to Cub Scouts, gym class and a friend who is far more opinionated than he is to finally get a song that he liked. Taio Cruz’ “Dynamite.”
I don’t know anything about Cruz. I think I had vaguely heard the song at some point (parts sound familiar but it’s not a terribly original song so it could have been anything). I also had no idea this song was two years old. I assumed it was a 2012 hit. Huh.
So, it may not be the greatest song in the world, but hearing my son sing first the melody to himself while he played and then singing the lyrics when he figured them out and then even dancing around a little bit to them (showing off a bit for our friends–a major breakthrough), it makes this song pretty important to me too.
I even noticed him expressing interest in thudding bass notes coming out of a passing car (god help me). But hey, I throw my hands up in the air sometimes saying Ay oh, gotta let go.
I just hope he doesn’t see the video for a few more years.
[READ: mid-June 2012] The Secrets of Droon: 35, 36 & SE7
These are the final few books of the Droon Series (except for Special Edition 8 which actually ends the series). Clark and I were pretty excited to get to these two final-numbered books. And it was worth the build up. And, of course, it was wonderful to see a whole book devoted to Neal.
Book #35 is The Lost Empire of Koomba. The cover drawing is really quite beautiful. I haven’t talked about the art much in the series. It’s kind of cartoony (which works for the tone), but this cover and the next are striking in their realism. It’s very cool. At one point I think I noticed a change in style of the art within–I didn’t like it quite as much. But the covers, wow.
At the End of SE#6, Eric told the kids that they had 5 Droon days before Gethwing would begin his all-out assault on Droon. So, they have five days to get the elixir that will be the antidote to his poison, they need to find the Moon medallion. Oh and they need to find Galen, and, geez, stop every outpost in Droon from being destroyed.
So who would have guessed that this book would be located primarily in a place we’ve never seen before—the lost Empire of Koomba. Koomba was a beautiful city in the desert. But over the years the city disappeared and all that is left is a star-shaped dune and a small trading post. But it’s more like the Bermuda triangle with travelers getting lost and things going missing every time anyone approaches.
After the last book in which Mrs Hinkle was told about Eric, they wiped her memory, but her love for Eric was too strong and she was able to remember things. Finally, Julie and Neal admit what is going on and she and Mr Hinkle insist on going to Droon with them! (Long time readers will remember that Mr Hinkle was sent to Droon accidentally many many books ago, but he has no memory of that). Of course, as soon as they get there, the parents (called the Old Ones by their captors, which makes the Hinkles quite cross) are captured. Now the kids have one more thing to worry about.
In this book Julie realizes her third magical power (in addition to being able to fly and change shape)–she can see into the past. She doesn’t know when something happened, but she is able to see things that have happened. And she sees Galen looking unhappy as he goes off with Anusa.
When the kids learn about Koomba they set off with Hob who gives them masks to wear (I love his masks, they make you change shape as well!). The kids head to the trading post cantina disguised as beasts. There they see Captain Bludge—the Ninn who worked with them against the beasts. It’s clear that Bludge still doesn’t like Gethwing, but he doesn’t know who these beasts are and he is very suspicious.
It turns out that things go missing in Koomba because of the Sand Children tiny, tiny people (smaller than your knee) who run through the cantina and steal what they can. They bring it back to their village within the starfish dunes. While the children are there, something big is going on at the cantina as well—the beasts are there to grab the Nightfox. We haven’t heard what this creature is, but Gethwing thinks it is very important.
The Sand Children strike, and Julie and Keeah see where they go—into the star shaped dune. So they follow them and jump into their hideout. Their Leader, Mashta, knows that they are looking for the antidote, which is called the fazool (really, Tony Abbott? ha ha). The kids soon see that the monster guarding the fazool is a many-tentacled creature. But Julie can’t help them, she has to go past them to get the fazool. And she enters the golden pathway that leads to the lost empire of Koomba—it had just sunk into the sand. While she is there she gets two visions—one that is helpful and one that’s a riddle. One has to do with the fazool, which they are able to get quickly, the other has to do with the moon Medallion and how they can get that back to help save Eric.
As the book comes to a close, one part of their mission completed, several more to go, the identity of the nightfox is revealed. And it’s a character that hasn’t been seen for a while and which Clark and I wondered about but assumed was dead. It’s a happy return of an old friend.
Book #36 is the final numbered book in the Droon series! And for a book that would seemingly wrap up the whole series, you wouldn’t expect a drawing of a weasel on the cover. The book is called The Knights of the Ruby Wand. And despite all of the seriousness of what’s going on, the whole book is kind of funny—and it acts mostly as a delay from letting the kids get on with their mission. This book even has Neal make up a theme song for Zabilac!
The kids know that Gethwing’s Hunters have made it to the Upper World, so they go there to try to stop them. The Hunters are in the kids’ school. The kids and the Hinkles break into the school and see the Hunters in the gym—they have Eric’s thermos, which they grab and flee the building. So the kids head back to Droon (alone this time) where they learn that Sparr has attacked Zorfendorf.
Max and Hob have been trying to convert the fazool into an antidote; meanwhile, Anusa shows up to say that Galen was taken not by her, but by an imposter. And in the way of Droon, the don’t need Galen’s help if they can find the three things that he used to defeat Ko last time–the tongue of flame, a silver arrow and the ruby wand—which renders its possessor nearly invincible. The Knights of Silversnow will find the tongue of flame, Anusa will look for the arrow and the kids must find the wand.
The kids learn from the witch sister (Magdy and Hagdy, really) that the wand is being held by a weasel (they created the wand, you see) and the weasel Anga is using it to lord over everyone else. There are a number of very funny scenes in this book. When the weasels explain the Esher-ish construct of the patio…of terror (which in itself is funny), the surrealism is great (Clark didn’t think so…he thought it just didn’t make any sense). But the kids need to be careful because the wand is so powerful that although they’re not afraid of Anga, his temper can make bad things happen very quickly (when he gets angry, thunderclouds roll in). So Keeah hatches a plan to set things right.
Because, incidentally, the Warriors of the Skorth are setting sail ready to attack the Droon Navy. And as we know the Skorth cannot be defeated by human hands. So Keeah hatches a dangerous but very clever plan which will divert the Skorth, anger Anga, have him give up the wand but think he didn’t, and then let the kids go free. In part of the humorous writing (that Clark caught before I could finish:
Phase One, Flink [to tell the Skorth that they need to capture the wand], Phase Two, Pinch to free Neal and Julie. Phase Four, convince Anga that the Skorth are the knights. And now…Phase Three.” By the end of the book they’re up to Phase Nine. And as the book closes, they realize that they have only three days left to save Eric. But the good news is that the have found the cure and the have the ruby wand. Only half a dozen other things to worry about.
Special Edition 7 is called The Genie King, and it is all about Neal (Julie is the only one who doesn’t get a book devoted to her). As the book opens we get a humorous recap of everything that has to be done to save Droon. This is pretty helpful as there are a lot of balls in the air still, but having it done from Neal’s point of view brings a wonderful humor to it. As the book opens, Neal is having a daydream that all of the other genies rally around him on his only mission–to save Eric! Until one of the genies mentions the Moon Medallion. And that Galen is still lost. And that Lord Sparr is attacking Zorfendorf. And they have to stop Gethwing. Finally, they encounter Gethwing and Neal is engaged in a fearsome battle until someone asks him the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle. (Clark is a little too young to get pi).
After getting out of more school problems (Neal learns a useful spell!), they realize that they have to return to Ut, the city in the bottle. And the Moon Medallion is scattered around the city. Most of your favorite Ut characters are back–Dumpella, Duke Snorfo (who has the Twilight Star and is a little too powerful for his own good right now), all of those flying urns. But most of the other major baddies have followed them into Ut as well, and so we learn that Ming and Ving, the hawk bandits, have a little brother named Ing (who is good for comic relief).
But this book is very intense (so the poopy diaper jokes are a good balance). By the end of the book, after many intense chase sequences, and Duke Snorfo realizing just how powerful the Twilight Star is, Ungast comes to take the Moon Medallion from the kids. But they are able to give him the antidote. And finally after so many days, Ungast turns into Eric again. And the genies are about to defeat Gethwing! But, as we saw earlier in the book, Neal has a vision that Eric and Gethwing are together at the very end. The future ensures it. When Gethwing escapes, Eric knows he must return to Gethwing and hope that Gethwing doesn’t know that he is Eric again. Clark had a hard time understanding this whole concept, but that’s all part of fantasy stories that he’ll have to get used to as he reads more and more of the genre.
The final scene is incredibly dramatic with Eric pretending to fight with his friends so that Gethwing believes he is on the dragon’s side. And SE #7 ends on a major cliffhanger!