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Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware…
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Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware

by M. T. Anderson

Other authors: Kurt Cyrus (Illustrator)

Series: Pals in Peril (3)

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Showing 4 of 4
So I'm a big fan of the world's most versatile children's/YA author, M. T. Anderson, and my introduction to him was the most awesome book, Whales on Stilts, which is about a whale/human hybrid who tries to take over the continental United States my mind-controlling an army of whales on stilts who can shoot laser beams out of their eyes. This is the third book in that series, though its name seems to have changed from M. T. Anderson's Thrilling Tales to Pals in Peril Tales and the book is as long as both previous installments put together.

It is also the best one yet, because it focuses on my favorite character, Jasper Dash, Boy Technonaut, who thinks the world is like how the 1950s imagined the future. (Basically he is Tom Swift.) In this one, he and his friends are required to venture in Delaware, which has been cut off from the rest of the United States for a long time due to prohibitive interstate tolls. M. T. Anderson freely admits that he has never been to Delaware, but he did look at a map of it once, and what else do you need to know? (The Governor of Delaware actually wrote Anderson a letter complaining about the depiction of his state, which is included in the paperback edition. I thought it was a fake, but no, Jack Markell really did write M. T. Anderson a letter where he said, "Special thanks for including my mailing address on page 92 for those who wish to address inaccuracies in your representation of Delaware. We look forward to shipping all of these letters straight back to you, buster cheerfully answering each and every letter we receive from your curious and diligent readers.")

The book is actually a hilarious satire on all those travel narratives where white people go around orientalizing things... and it satirizes the people who try really hard not to orientalize things, with a character at one point giving a speech about how there's no such thing as the "authentic Delaware" anymore. Never did I think I'd read a children's story making jokes about the plight of postmodernity!

Also there are jokes about power drinks, stare-offs, low-budget spy organizations, monasteries, and the cartoon figure you see on crosswalk indicators. Basically it's one of the funniest, most inventive things I've ever read. I remain skeptical that children actually read and like this book, but I don't care, because I want M. T. Anderson to keep this series going as long as he can. (Though maybe the book could be a little less long this time.) I mean, Octavian Nothing is great or whatever, but this is gold. (It's one of those books that makes me mad because I wish I'd written it and now I can't.)
  Stevil2001 | Jun 30, 2011 |
The third in the Thrilling Tales series ( "Whales on Stilts" and "The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen" were the first two). This is a tongue-in-cheek parody of series fiction such as the Hardy Boys. Jasper Dash, star of his own boy-adventure series (which no one reads any more), and his friends Lily Gefelty and Katie Mulligan unravel a terrible mystery in the wilds of Delaware. Jasper is involved in the Stare-Eyes Championships, when he and his friends become involved in an adventure that involves monks, art thieves, martial arts, dinosaurs, all in the mountainous realm of.... Delaware! Even the blurb is funny.
  EthicalCultureLib | Oct 16, 2010 |
Reviewed by Cana Rensberger for TeensReadToo.com

If you are a fan of M. T. Anderson, you've got to read JASPER DASH AND THE FLAME-PITS OF DELAWARE. Mr. Anderson writes such gripping historical fiction such as the OCTAVIAN NOTHING titles, unforgettable young adult fiction in FEED, and now, another PALS IN PERIL TALE - entertaining, exciting, and yet thought-provoking material for our younger readers. There is a sense of authorial glee in this book that's almost palpable.

Jasper Dash is once again off to solve a dastardly mystery. This time it's the Stare-Eyes team from Delaware that has tricks that neither Jasper nor his teammates can beat. One by one, they are left beaten and slack-jawed. Shaken, Jasper meets his opponent. Just as he thinks he may have him beat, a voice from his past calls out for help. Before the day is out, Jasper and his friends are in route to Delaware aboard their Gyroscopic Sky Suite.

Let me warn you. When you enter this world...when you enter the mind of the author, nothing will be as expected. Bugs crawl across pages. Spoons stick out of buildings, and indeed, even provide transport. Mountains appear out of nowhere, flying dinosaurs hovering nearby. You'll meet characters without vowels; no one is as they seem. Except, of course, our amazing, dashing young hero, Jasper Dash: Boy Technonaut, and his friends, Lily and Katie.

The narrator tells his story in an off-handish, by-the-way, and did-I-remember-to-tell-you style. His amusing footnotes provide additional entertainment for the advanced reader. That reader who can totally see himself fighting the tentacled monster right alongside Jasper. That reader who fancies himself as the monk, crouched in the closet with the hungry tiger, looking for a board game to help him escape. Only a reader with vision, imagination, and a hunger for adventure will venture into this wacky, fun, yet dangerous world. And yes, I think so, I believe it to be true...that reader is you!

For moms and dads out there who like to read what their child is reading, there's humor here for you, as well. Innuendos that will quite go over the head of most children. JASPER DASH AND THE FLAME-PITS OF DELAWARE reminds me of other iconic reads, such as ALICE IN WONDERLAND by Lewis Carroll, and perhaps even more so, THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH by Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer. This book is loads of fun, a regular romp in the world of make-believe. Every child's fantasy.

Take a load off from the stress of school, pull out your flashlight, burrow in under your tent of sheets and blankets and take a trip into the extraordinary. Into the Flame-Pits of Delaware. You'll be glad you did. ( )
  GeniusJen | Apr 24, 2010 |
Boy Technonaut, Jasper Dash, and his friends Lily Gefelty and Katie Mulligan travel into the mist-shrouded heart of the forbidden mountainous realm of Delaware to try and unravel a terrible mystery.
  prkcs | Oct 19, 2009 |
Showing 4 of 4
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
M. T. Andersonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cyrus, KurtIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Boy Technonaut, Jasper Dash, and his friends Lily Gefelty and Katie Mulligan travel into the mist-shrouded heart of the forbidden mountainous realm of Delaware to try and unravel a terrible mystery.

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