Champions of Breakfast: The Cold Cereal Saga, Book 3

 
Cosmic slapstick and mayhem as wacky Arthurian saga ends.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Like the entire Cold Cereal saga, Champions of Breakfast has zany adventures lavishly seasoned with odd bits of interesting information, from literary references (King Arthur and Shakespeare) to geographical (in their quest to save the world, the heroes do quite a bit of globetrotting that young readers may wish to follow on a map). The story also offers plenty of opportunities to discuss the influence (subtle and otherwise) of marketing, commercialism, and hidden agendas on the information we receive -- and on which we base our choices.

Positive messages

Courage, friendship, kindness, family ties, and plenty of creative thinking all come in handy, especially when you're trying to save the world and facing overwhelming odds.

Positive role models

By this point in the saga, Scott and Polly's dad, John Doe/Reggie Dwight (a pop star and actor in the latter identity) has grown up a good deal. Besides rising to his knightly responsibilities of saving the Queen and slaying the dragon, he also has a much better relationship with his kids. Scott, Polly, and their friends Emily and Erno all show courage and resourcefulness in the face of world-imperiling challenges, making the best of such circumstances as Polly now being the same size as the pixie princes Fee, Fi, Fo, and Denzil. 

 

Violence & scariness

Violence is cartoonish and often involves very ugly, murderous monsters described with comic gusto: "Neither Merle nor John could have guessed what a horse getting cooked and eaten by a dragon sounds like, but it turns out that when you hear it it's pretty obvious." But, as John realizes early in his monster-slaying career, there's more than a little pathos to the poor things, too. Besides the impending destruction of the world, the cosmic upheaval includes moving people and animals among worlds, with high casualties. Some characters, good and evil, are killed, and others are kidnapped.

Language

Occasional "crap."

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that bestselling comic author/illustrator Adam Rex is in good form in the wacky, chaotic Champions of Breakfast, the final installment in the Cold Cereal Saga. Here the intrepid Doe family (dad John, aka Sir Reggie Dwight; 11-year-old Scott; and bratty but resourceful little sister Polly) and their friends are locked in cosmic struggle with the vengeful spirit Nimue, who plans to take over the world by turning loose the dragon Saxbriton. Along the way there's a raft of wisecracks by the author and the characters, as well as endless bits of trivia about science, literature, and pop culture. Some of the wisecracks, such as riffs on the subject of "fairies," include mild innuendo that will go over the heads of younger kids and crack up older ones. Very occasional rude language, such as "crap."

What's the story?

As CHAMPIONS OF BREAKFAST picks up after the world-splitting conclusion of Unlucky Charms, Scott, Polly (now the size of an action figure), their knightly dad, John, and their motley entourage that includes a wizard, a leprechaun, and four pixie princes, are in the fairy world of Pretannia. They're trying to avert planetary doom by rescuing the kidnapped Queen Elizabeth (now two feet tall) and slaying the pink dragon Saxbriton. Meanwhile, Nimue and her nefarious crew are trying to take over the human world by bringing Saxbriton through the cosmic rift to wreak havoc, while Erno and Emily try to foil her -- and stay alive.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Author/illustrator Adam Rex's bestsellers are known for their wacky humor and madcap onslaught of kitchen-sink plot developments, and Champions of Breakfast follows in that tradition. Anyone who attempts to make sense of it without reading the first two volumes is almost certainly doomed to early bewilderment. There's a steady barrage of multiple locations, magical characters, and strange cosmology. This being the third volume of the trilogy, the plot threads are in a chaotic tangle, but it's impressive to see how well Rex manages to sort it all out. Some readers will be more satisfied than others with the resolution, but they'll all be well entertained along the way.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about adventure stories that are both scary and funny. Do you think it works to mix things up that way, or would you rather keep humor and adventure separate?

  • Have you encountered some of these characters before (such as Merlin from the King Arthur stories or Titania from Shakespeare)? How are they different here? Why do you think that might be?

  • Why do you think stories about evil conspiracies to destroy the world are so popular?

Book details

Author:Adam Rex
Illustrator:Adam Rex
Genre:Fantasy
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Princesses and fairies, Adventures, Brothers and sisters, Fairy tales, Friendship, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Balzer + Bray
Publication date:February 11, 2014
Number of pages:368
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Read aloud:7 - 8
Read alone:8 - 12
Available on:Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook

This review of Champions of Breakfast: The Cold Cereal Saga, Book 3 was written by

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