A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
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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