DISCLAIMER. I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew
When friends get together and use their imagination, quirky things can happen. This is the main theme that is presented in the book Archer and Zowie, written and illustrated by Hans Bluedorn. This book is written for middle school level readers and quirky doesn't even begin to cover some of the fun to be had by this pair of best friends and a microwave. We were given the opportunity to review a copy of this book over the summer and it proved to be a fun read for both Ashleigh and Garrett.
We received a paperback copy of the book for our review. The book is 233 pages with black and white illustrations scattered throughout. These illustrations each take up a full page and probably take up a good 1/4 of the book, making the actual reading of the book more like 175 pages. The illustrations, drawn by the author, are simple, cute and quirky, quite fitting with the rest of the book. The author wants it known per his introduction, however, that if you do not like the illustrations in the book, too bad, he will not refund your money, he "drew them all myself and I like them. So there". But, we thought the illustrations were cute and since we didn't pay for the book anyway, we have no complains to take up with Mr Bluedorn. Mr Bluedorn says that he will, however, pay you whatever he has in his pocket at the time if you approach him in person to explain why you might be disappointed in your reading experience. I expect that you'll end up with a few balls of lint and a chewing gum wrapper - but since we didn't have any complains regarding poor character development, predictable pot or typos, we won't be testing him on this offer.
So, what is this lil quirky book, you ask? Well, in general, it's a book about friendship. But don't expect some poignant, coming of age story that will bring you to the brink of tears and leave you all in your feelings. Instead you get a nice mix of juvenile science fiction, a bit of Dr Seuss whimsy, and the craziness that is The Book with No Pictures with the use of onomatopoeia. However, over the course of the silliness and goofyness, one gets the story of two friends (Archer and Zowie) who while they might be as different as two individuals can be, the imagination and friendship between them leads to an amazing adventure involving a tempermental microwave, an alien planet, and fighting intergalactic penguins, all while also dealing with Marcie, the babysitter. But when the two friends do not see eye to eye and have a fight leading to conflict, it's up to Zowie to find the courage to rescue her friend and save the day.
I found the silliness in this book on par with some of the other sillier books for this age group, as that seems to be what younger middle school students like. I did not find any content that I would consider questionable, it's all good clean, silly fun.
My kids really enjoyed the book, although, I had to say, they drove me absolutely BONKERS when they decided to read aloud one to me particular portion of the book which had the word "step" over and over again. They thought it was absolutely hilarious - I thought I had just been transported to one of the Dante's seven circles of hell for a good 15 minutes while they laughed their way though the word, each time with more cacophony as both joined in the fun. By the end of the fourth page of "step", I am pretty sure my neighbors were just as tired of the word. I do believe Mr Bluedorn should put a warning in his introduction in regards this portion - maybe offer to pay for a day at the spa for the cruel and unusual punishment we as parents must endure upon the reading of Chapter 17. If only all books could inspire that much enthusiasm!!!
Overall, it's a cute story that most middle school students will enjoy.