According to Felix Contreras, NPR’s Alt Latino dude, their mariachi is quite authentic. The biggest surprise to me is that the band started as a punk band. So the lead singer is a bald Caucasian fellow and the accordionist has red hair! That obviously doesn’t matter, it’s just surprising, especially since their music feels like the genuine article.
They play three songs,
- “Revolution Girls”
- “Everything Dies”
- “Norteño Lights”
And they have trumpets playing, a great violin solo on the first track and the big fat bass instrument on all the songs. Mariachi is pretty much always fun, and this is no exception.
[READ: December 5, 2015] Desmond Pucket and the Mountain Full of Monsters
This sequel to the first Desmond Pucket book pushes Desmond’s love for scaring people (and making monsters) to a logical extreme. But it also adds a romantic interest and a back story for his nemesis, Mr Needles.
I said that the first book surprised me with its ending, but there weren’t too many surprises in this one.
The book begins with Desmond showing us his Top Secret Master Plan, which involves giving Tina Schimsky a note asking if she’ll go on the Mountain Full of Monsters Ride during the school trip.
But before he can get her the note, class bully Scot Seltzer steals it. We get a brief story about how Desmond and Scott used to be good friends and how they became enemies (which is pretty funny). He gets the note back, but when he gets to Crab Shell Pier and is ready to put his plan into action, he is grabbed my Mr Needles, the school disciplinarian.
Mr Needles was after Desmond all through the first book and now he is back, planning to give him detention or (ideally) to get him expelled. And he is going to stick with Desmond like glue.
But Desmond is no fool and he has a lot of things up his sleeve.
And soon enough he gives Tina Schimsky the note. But before anything can happen, Mr Needles is back, even angrier at the way Desmond fooled him.
Since the Mountain Full of Monsters is almost a character in the story, there is a very cool fold out spread showing all of the monsters in this roller coaster. And when the rides comes to an end, Desmond sees the sadist thing ever–they are going to tear down his beloved ride to make way for a new, fancier ride.
The rest of the book shows Desmond at work trying to get some money to buy the monsters before they are demolished. And the only way Desmond knows how to make money is to scare people–so he starts a fright business. This part of the story was very clever and quite funny. Also funny is when Tina Schimsky’s little brother joins Desmond in the fright making (he’s an evil genius).
Of course, they never considered that the park owner doesn’t want to sell to them the monsters. And just how are they going to get them back to Desmond’s house anyway?
The things I liked best in the story were Ricky’s Grandparents who celebrate Christmas all year long (and have a room in their house which is full of snow). The callback to their bus is awesome. I didn’t really like Desmond’s sister’s boyfriend who is (strangely) really into buses…it seemed really weird. But the pay off for him is outstanding, and made me enjoy all of his bus fanaticism that much more.
I found the backstory to Mr Needles a bit obvious as was the Becky /Tina triangle, but the book is for younger kids, so they might not know about these things yet. And Desmond’s reactions to the stories were very funny indeed.
I really enjoyed the end of the book where it shows how to make some of the scary special effects (the exploding cake is great). And I liked the ones pages where “Desmond” draws his versions of things. They are often very funny and slightly sloppy like a kid might do.
Like the Wimpy Kid books, this book has a large illustration on nearly every page. There’s very little in the way of text and you can polish it off pretty quickly. The story is simple but if you like frighteningly funny stores, it’s a good read.