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Jeremy's apartment building is a little out of the ordinary, Oh not his family; it’s the neighbours you see. There’s Agatha, the science wiz, who lives with her family, not greatly popular at school, but it’s not a problem for Jeremy, as she doesn’t like him anyway. There’s crazy old Mrs Simmons, who is a few pancakes short of a Passover, and finally there is Professor Twichett, who covers his work in secrecy and uses Jeremy to run errands, though he insists on calling him Igor - don’t ask. When Jeremy returns from school and finds that the professor has gone on the run, leaving his latest experiment in Jeremy’s bedroom, he is both shocked and intrigued that the Professor has left him to look after one of the most mythical of figures, a hard drinking, violent blend of rabbit with deer antlers...
Project Jackalope is a new juvenile novel from Emily Ecton, a writer and producer for Wait, Wait... Don’t Tell Me! She hails from Chicago.
This is her fourth novel and I’m sorry to say I haven’t caught up with her previous writings, but if Project Jackalope is a fair example, then Ecton is a most entertaining writer of juvenile fiction.
The book is told in the first person, that person being Jeremy. Jeremy is supposedly a normal, typical kid, or so the story tells us, but let’s face it this would make for a dull read. Ecton injects Jeremy with a good level of wry humour, which keeps the plot amusing as well as throwing in a small number of pop culture references, to make the story sound contemporary. Jeremy is a very likable kid and I enjoyed my short time in his company.
In some ways, there is much that is generic about the plot, the kids having been stuck with the Jackalope, have to find the missing professor, whilst at the same time having to avoid some intimidating guys in suits, who may, or may not be from the government. So far so good, but what raises the book above the average is the writing which in characterisation, plot structure and plot development is near perfect, but written in a very easy, conversational style, which should attract her target audience.
The biggest, potential problem with the book could have been the description and actions of the Jackalope himself, especially given that most of the parents will have vivid memories of the rather fake, killer rabbits in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974). The beast is used sparingly, mostly only reacting with Jeremy and whilst you couldn’t consider a bunny with antlers as being anything other than odd, the humour is drawn from the situation rather than any cheap use of the animal.
For an adult, the book is an enjoyable easy read; if you’re taken with this book then you can check out her web site at emilyecton.com.