Tag Archives: Juvenile fiction

Surf Ninjas

Surf ninjas / A.L. Singer

Yes, I’m serious. If one of the rights of the reader is the right to read whatever they want then that must include junior novelizations of terrible movies. Luckily for the reader who chooses to read this one, it’s one of the rare adaptations to another medium that ends up even better than the original.

Chiefly due to the lack of Leslie Nielson’s “acting” talents

Plot summary

For those of you who do not remember the plot of this cinematic classic, Surf ninjas is the story of two brothers, rescued from a tiny island nation in Southeast Asia by an American who proceeds to raise the children as his own.

The brothers eventually become way cool surfer dudes. Unfortunately, their best friend is Rob Schneider.

After being rescued from mysterious assassins by Zatch, the brothers discover that they are the sons of the royal family of Patasan.

What follows is a wacky adventure as the brothers attempt to free their homeland from a brutal warlord.

So how is it?

It’s a junior novelization of a movie featuring Leslie Nielson and Rob Schneider. It improves upon the original by virtue of being silent and thus sparing the reader from these two comedic “legends”.

But seriously as far as J Fiction goes it’s not immediately terrible. It tells an adventure story about a family featuring not only a single father but also a single father raising nonbiological children of a different race.

While the Southeast Asian nation is fictional, its culture isn’t usually the butt of the jokes. So while it still is a weak attempt at cashing in on a destined to be ephemeral film it’s not horrifically problematic or racist (which would have been pretty easy given the premise). Instead it’s almost a commentary on the dangers of imperialism and the way Americans use pop culture to blind themselves from serious human rights abuses.

Did I mention that in the film version, Rob Schneider does a Scottish accent?

As is standard for junior novelizations of family films, some of the more “adult” aspects have been toned down. The “car surfing” scene has been cut, as has the “brothers don’t surf” line. Neither one if them was particularly important anyways and the book doesn’t really suffer for it. Zatch’s eyepatch is explained away as hiding a lazy eye for no apparent reason. The classic “money cannot buy knives” jokes as well as using a Game Gear to tell the future remain, which is all you really need.


If you’re looking for a recommedation about a junior novelizations of a 1993 film then your library is either terrible or you’re at Goodwill.

Either way, as far as early chapter books go it’s not terrible and it’s definitely better than “educational” books like Pay attention Slosh.

Montmorency : thief, liar, gentleman?

Montmorency : thief, liar, gentleman? / Eleanor Updale

And now for something completely different

To contrast with my recent posts, now I’m going to go back to historical fiction and books for younger readers.

Brief plot summary

Montmorency is a thief lurking in the streets of 19th century London. Captured by the police and gravely injured in the process, he is taken in by an eccentric young doctor who is going to use his success in treating Montmorency to secure his position in the London Scientific Society. Montmorency makes a discovery at one of these seminars that will inspire him in the greatest heist of his career.

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The thief of always

The thief of always / Clive Barker. First published 1992.

The thief of always is somewhat difficult to classify in that “unabridged fairy tale” kind of way. It’s a horror novel that features a ten year old protagonist, but it’s not exactly an “adult” book, nor is it really a children’s book. Originally published in 1992 and illustrated by the author, there was a graphic novel adaptation by IDW in the early 2000s. It’s one of the more well known books in a genre that’s surprisingly underpopulated. I’d guess that authors are hesitant to write straight-up horror geared towards both children are adults. It would be astoundly easy to write a book that is too “adult”, making it difficult to publish and market as well as inviting the outrage of upset parents, but it would be just as easy to write a book that’s not adult enough, that ends up too elementary for older readers. The thief of always walks that line very well.

Plot summary

Harvey Swick is the 10 year old spiritual descendent of Milo of The phantom tollbooth. Dissatisfied with his life, he dreams of being whisked away to somewhere more interesting. To his surprise, this happens when a thin man with an improbably large grin arrives to take him to Mr. Hood’s Holiday House, a paradise for children where Christmas happens every night. Harvey quickly realizes that all is not as it seems, and when he starts to become homesick discovers that returning home is harder than he expected.

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