Cold Cereal: The Cold Cereal Saga, Book 1

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
Cold Cereal: The Cold Cereal Saga, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Humor spikes kids' surreal cereal factory romp.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 8+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

From Arthurian legend to showbiz in-jokes, Shakespeare to science fiction, mad genius Rex dishes up plenty of interesting stuff for those who care to pursue it, including the theatrical convention of referring to Macbeth only as "the Scottish play." Who knows how many young readers may take an early interest in Shakespeare as a result?

Positive Messages

Cold Cereal is longer on general wackiness than messages, and many characters' relationship with the straight and narrow is a bit vague. That said, while the tale brings forth some fairly odd friendships and family structures -- including Scott's as well as Erno and Emily's -- the quirky bonds are also strong ones, often turning the tide when things look direst.

Positive Role Models & Representations

As kids thrown into a surreal world not of their own making and certainly not under their control, Scott, Erno, and Emily are appealing in their various vulnerabilities and in the determination with which they look out for each other. Virtually without exception, the adult characters can be counted upon to be not quite what they seem, as the kids gradually discover.     

Violence & Scariness

Lots of danger to the kids and their friends, though most of it is magical, cartoonish, and/or averted in the nick of time. For example, a friend's home is torched by bad guys in an attempt to kill them all, and Erno and Emily are the experimental objects of what seems to be some very creepy research. Scott's father, a famous actor, causes great consternation when he punches the Queen of England. Other mayhem from slapstick to slightly scary.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cold Cereal is the first book in a trilogy by popular children's author Adam Rex, whose hits include The True Meaning of Smekday and Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich. It's full of humor, wordplay, and mayhem that ranges from slapstick to slightly scary, including arson, creepy experiments on children, and an evil plot by cereal manufacturers bent on world domination to insert something in their product for the purpose of mind control.

User Reviews

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  • Kids say

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Kid, 8 years old February 25, 2012
Kid, 11 years old November 21, 2017

Pretty good!

This book is not for little kids but it’s not inappropriate.

What's the story?

On his first day of sixth grade, Scott Doe has a lot to deal with -- his third new school in three years due to his mom's job changes; a migraine on his way to school, complete with hallucinations; a peculiar field trip to a cereal factory; the near-discovery by one and all that his long-gone actor father has saddled him with the name Scottish Play Doe; and an introduction to the increasingly surreal world of the company town of the Goodco Cereal Company, his mother's employer. He also meets twins Erno and Emily, who have their own strange relationship with Goodco. Changelings, wizards, fairies, dragons, and villains bent on world domination have plans involving the kids, with or without their consent.

Is it any good?

Adam Rex is a very funny and imaginative writer, but he may tend to get a bit carried away for the taste of some readers who'd prefer a faster-moving plot with fewer diversions. COLD CEREAL is full of in-jokes, particularly from the show-business world, that will go right over the head of most young readers. For example, the protagonist is named Scottish Play Doe, a punny mashup of Macbeth and the childhood sculpting material, and his father, born John Doe, chose as his stage name Reginald Dwight -- Elton John's birth name. Wordplay like this might give the reading-aloud parent the giggles at odd moments.

Being the first book in a trilogy, Cold Cereal must introduce a fairly complex cosmology and quite a few characters, with frequent romps across the time-space continuum, so it's easy for readers to get a bit lost. Still, it does all come together in the end, and there are many delightful moments en route to setting up the next installment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the stories and legends that get mentioned here, especially the tales of King Arthur, and also leprechauns and the pot of gold, fairies and magic, and so on. What other stories have you heard about these characters?

  • What breakfast cereals do you like? Do you pay attention to the commercials on TV, or to how the cereal tastes, or to how healthy you think it is? Do you think the idea of evil forces using cereal for mind control is possible or just silly?

  • What do you know about Macbeth and why actors consider it bad luck to mention the title? Kids: Have you seen any Shakespeare plays?

  • How would you cope if the only parent you knew was half a world away and the one arriving to take care of you was a stranger?

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