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*Secrets of Dripping Fang, Book Five: The Shluffmuffin Boy Is History* by Dan Greenburg, illustrated by Scott M. Fischer- young readers fantasy book review

Also by Dan Greenburg:

Secrets of Dripping Fang #3: The Vampire's Curse

Secrets of Dripping Fang #4: Fall of the House of Mandible

Weird Planet #2: Lost in Las Vegas

Secrets of Dripping Fang, Book Five: The Shluffmuffin Boy Is History
by Dan Greenburg, illustrated by Scott M. Fischer
Ages 9-12 176 pages Harcourt December 2006 Hardcover    

This is the fifth book in the Secrets of Dripping Fang series. Greenburg created the series for reluctant middle-school readers, boys in particular. This explains his delightful cast of monsters and miscreants. A brief history of the series will help explain volume five.

Twins Wally and Cheyenne Shluffmuffin are orphans. Their father, skinny beyond comprehension, fell into a Porta Potti and drowned, only to be made into a vampire. The day after their father turns into Vampire Dad, their mother is smothered by a gang of angry bunnies. Wally and Cheyenne are given into the care of their tiny, forty-nine pound grandmother. A nearsighted eagle mistakes the poor woman for a raccoon and carries her off to parts and destinies unknown. They are sent to Jolly Days Orphanage where their troubles follow as they come to the attention of the Mandible sisters, known as the Onts. They are giant ants determined to take over the world, and it seems the only factors in their way are the determined Shluffmuffin twins. They wind up living with Vampire Dad, Edgar Spydelle, a bemused professor, and his human-turned-spider wife, Shirley.

Deep in Dripping Fangs Forest, Cheyenne Shluffmuffin lies sick unto death. At least, that is what her odd assortment of family members think, and the troll doctor isn’t making any bets that she will survive beyond noon the next day. Each family member bargains with the almighty, vowing to give up some small or large sin if only Cheyenne recovers. Her fever breaks, and each family member more or less keep their vows, causing some interesting fallout and misunderstanding. Families are like that, even ones that don’t have unnatural relatives.

The Mandible sisters have it in for the twins. They are determined to use Cheyenne, a cockeyed optimist, in their wicked plans to take over the world. Wally is just in the way, so they hire an assassin to take him out – The Jackal. Meanwhile, the whole city of Cincinnati has been taken over by a deadly flu virus. Their snot-filled hankies are collected and fed to the larvae of the evil ants. The struggle between good and evil has never been as funny as in Greenburg’s tale. He loves to gross out his readers and then make them laugh.

The series is wonderful. I had never read any of Greenburg’s prior work but promptly went out and got the first books of this series. My young reader and I have spent the last several weekends both grossed out and delighted by these books.

The artist illustrating this book also deserves a mention and a further look at his work. Scott M. Fisher has inked other drawings for various authors and is, I believe, working on book eight of this series as well as a cover for Charles DeLint.

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  Pamela Crossland/2007 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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