Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Magic Delivery

Magic Delivery
by Clete Barrett Smith
Recommended Ages: 12+

Nick and his best friend Burger are coasting their bicycles down a dangerous hill when a delivery truck suddenly pops out of a wormhole in front of them and swerves off the road, missing them by inches. Almost as weird as the wormhole bit is the fact that the truck seems to be driven by a bear. The boys go to investigate the wreck and find a surprisingly intact truck in the woods, guarded in fact by a bear, which chases them away - but not before they borrow a couple of items out of its cargo area. Their booty turns out to be a couple of high-end Halloween costumes - a full-body gorilla suit and a robot get-up. When the boys put them on, the costumes come vividly to life and the boys almost forget who they really are. Luckily, they're able to unzip before their backyard Movie Fight gets too far out of control.

Neat as these magic costumes are, problems soon develop. The driver of the truck is desperate to complete his first delivery, after inheriting the job from his father and a long line of ancestors. If he screws it up, the witch who employs him will ruin his whole family. But while the boys are willing to help him, the same can't be said for a wheelchair-bound high school bully and his football-player cronies. Dressed as a variety of monsters, they terrorize the Halloween party of the popular girl Nick likes. To stop them, two boys not otherwise known for their heroism must step into the role, costume and all, and face down a terrifying assortment of creatures who (unlike Nick and Burger) aren't held in check by compassion for others.

The book I kept finding myself comparing this to, for some reason, was Brandon Mull's The Candy Shop War. I guess there was something similar in their appeal, as stories about kids discovering magic of terrifying power hidden in a seemingly harmless item, like candy or a party costume, and then having to risk great danger to bring the magic back under control. It also made interesting use of the idea of a disabled bully who becomes most dangerous when he regains his lost ability. Fun use is also made of the theme of labor rights. Overall it was a very funny, magical, and exciting adventure with a gentle heart.

Clete Barrett Smith is also the author of the "Intergalactic Bed and Breakfast" series and the stand-alone teen novel Mr. 60%.

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