Sunday, September 03, 2006

Veggie Tales and Alex Rider

A recommendation for "The Lord of the Beans" - a VeggieTales parody/pastiche of a more influential film series, with a message. It includes Sporks - monsters that are half-spoon, half-fork - the writing on the bean (on one side) says: "If you can read this, you are too close" - and the Bilbo equivalent says that he feels like "chocolate spread that's been spread over too much ham."

They must have had so much fun writing it! It's about the only thing that has distracted my son from Doctor Who in the last few weeks.

I've also now finished all the Alex Rider books - Stormbreaker, Point Blanc, Skeleton Key, Eagle Strike, Scorpia and Ark Angel - by Anthony Horowitz. They are targeted at children a few years older than mine. This isn't a bad idea, as it's hard to find things that particularly young teenage boys will read - but I foresee the necessity of explaining a few words to my children as they read the books.

The stories are somewhat formulaic, though exciting nonetheless. Alex Rider is a thirteen/fourteen year old orphan who reluctantly finds himself working as a spy for MI6. The James Bond cliches are present - the gadget inventor (Smithers), the psychopathic baddie who finds some reason to "monologue" to Alex towards the end of the book, death-defying stunts, the henchmen with striking appearances. But as James Bond moves back to his somewhat darker Ian Fleming identity in "Casino Royale", Alex Rider comes across as the victim of his adventures as much as the hero, bearing emotional scars as well as physical ones from a very intense few months. The badness of the villains is made very clear - their disregard for the lives of everyone who might get in their way - and Alex is not given the opportunity to kill people "in cold blood" - though he does end up killing people in self-defence.

A good series, which kept me turning pages and buying the next book until I'd finished.