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Salt Water Taffy: A Sweet Surprise
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Review by Scott Tingley, August 05, 2009

I'm sorry for the title of this review – It was like having a song stuck in my head. The only way to get rid of this title was to type it. So sorry.

On with the review!

At first I really had no interest in reading Salt Water Taffy by Matthew Loux.

Wow! What a great way to start a review. I've given it an awful title, I rambled a bit, and then I say that at first glance I found the art and the story concept uninteresting. I didn't say that last bit before? Well it's out there now!

To continue, I had little interest in reading Oni Press' all ages graphic novel series – it didn't grab my attention right away and I already had an overflowing pile of books in need of reviewing and I didn't need another one. So what happened? The suspense must be killing you.

When I was a young teenager I would spend probably fifteen to twenty bucks a week on comics (I would have spent more, but my lawn mowing money would only stretch so far). Since they only cost between a dollar and a dollar and a half I usually came away with a pretty hefty stack of reading material. Sometimes I bought stuff I wasn't interested in any more simply because I always bought that comic. Sometimes those issues I wasn't interested in got put to the bottom until there wasn't anything else left to read. Sometimes those issues were the best of the week or month leaving me to wonder what I was thinking in the first place.

Do you see where I am going with this?

A copy of Salt Water Taffy arrived at my house the day before my car pool called to say they would be late. There it was, staring at me, daring me to give it a try. I had nothing better to do so I gave it a try and…I really enjoyed it. What a shocking twist, right? I led you down one path and then, bam, a whole new direction.

Eleven-year-old Jack Putnam and his eight-year-old brother Benny are being dragged against their will on a summer-long vacation with their family. And not to somewhere cool like Disney World, but to a little port town in Maine named Chowder Bay, far away from anyplace fun. But what promises to be a very bleak summer quickly becomes a series of exciting adventures in one of the most mysterious places on earth!

Warring seagulls! Giant lobsters! Kleptomaniac Eagles! Ghosts from the Civil War! (from OniPress.com)

Matthew Loux's art quickly grew on me with the lush east coast scenery and/or architecture highlighted on some pages and the high energy actions of kids on vactaion on others. The whole giant lobster and kleptomaniac eagles stuff may be fantasy, but the relationships between the brothers and the rest of the family feels genuine and is nice to read. Loux does a fine job both writing and illustrating this summer adventure story.

I teach in a rural school just outside of a fishing community that comes alive in the summer season – the main fish: lobster. I brought in a copy of vol 1 into my class and the boys and girls in my grade three class that read it liked it too. I think they could really relate to this story…well, maybe not to the monster lobster, but all the other stuff would seem pretty familiar. The publisher has labeled the book as being for 7+. While the content is fine for that age, when I look at the reading level it would take to read and enjoy the book, I think it would be best suited for a reader at an early to mid grade three ability level (so age 8 ½-9).

I have the second volume around here somewhere and I was going to read it tonight before writing this, but I couldn't find it and I was afraid that if I didn't sit down and do the review tonight it would never get done. However, based on the first book, I would definitely check out the second.

I waited so long to get this review up a third volume is coming out in a couple of weeks. The publisher's website says that Salt Water Taffy, Vol. 3 - "The Truth About Doctor True" is due out on July 29, 2009. It's great summer reading for any season (I'm not sure if that makes sense , but it sure is a good soundbite).

You can check out all of the books in the series HERE.

Pages: 96

ISBN: 978-1-932664-94-2

Diamond Code: MAR08 3899



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