Twelve-year-old Joe Warden isn't happy. Sure, he's rich, but his parents don't care about him. His grandmother should make everything better, except that Joe's granny is a nightmare. She's not just physically repulsive, she's horribly mean. Everyone thinks she's just a dotty old woman, but Joe knows the truth. He's seen behind her mask and glimpsed the wicked glimmer in her eyes-she is pure evil. And now she's out to get Joe, unless he can stop her and her band of nasty grannies first.
With the wickedly fun undertones of Roald Dahl's The Witches, Horowitz (The Switch, reviewed below) imagines that stooped, child-hating grannies are out to take over the world. To do it, they need Jordan Warden, aka Joe, a filthy rich 12-year-old who lives in London with his self-obsessed mother; his cold, can't-be-bothered father; and a quartet of odd but affectionate servants. Joe's Granny-a kleptomaniac with peculiar eating habits-sets out to kidnap him, and Joe ends up in a hotel full of old ladies assembled for the Golden Granny Awards (one prize is for longest time spent boarding a bus). They are also clamoring for his youthful enzymes. Of course, to get those enzymes, Joe has to die. Horowitz resorts to the lights-going-out-at-the-right-moment trick to get Joe out of his predicament, but even that old chestnut doesn't detract from the excitement. Although some parents may cringe at the blackness of the humor, kids who can shudder through the explosions will love the campy ending. Ages 8-12. (Jan.)
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January 07, 2009
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