Tuesday, January 6, 2009

REVIEW: The Dangerous Days of Daniel X

Patterson, J., & Ledwidge, M. (2008). The Dangerous Days of Daniel X. New York: Little, Brown and Company.


Poor Michael Ledwidge. I feel bad for him. Patterson’s name graces both the spine and the top of the book cover, while Ledgwidge is tacked on in smaller font at the bottom. I won’t be staging a Show Michael Ledwidge Some Love Protest. For two reasons:

1. I’m lazy
2. Patterson’s name will make Mikey-boy a lotta money. He’ll probably be able to throw his earnings up in the air and sing The Flying Lizards’ “Money. That’s what I want.”
(I too can throw my money in the air and watch it flutter to the ground. However, seeing a $5 and a $1 bill land at my feet is far from exciting)

First off a warning: The Dangerous Days of Daniel X is (OF COURSE!!!!!) becoming a series. I suppose Daniel X had quite a few dangerous days as an alien hunter (I know I do). I offer this warning because, perhaps, like me you pick up what seems like an interesting book, read it, then discover to truly know what happens to the characters you’ve become attached to you will need to read a dozen more books. There goes several months worth of reading something better for you.

I’ll also give the spoiler-ish warning that a character gets shot, but survives. There is some pain and consequence involved, but it you hate seeing guns in the books you share with children, you may want to avoid this.

So what’s this book about? Well, it’s about an orphan alien hunter, of course. Daniel must hunt for one of the most dangerous aliens and also face betrayal while searching for a friend or family member. Oh, and he likes elephants.

Now on to the actual review. This is a fun and fast read. Lot’s of action, more action (too much action?) and very short chapters. This book would be a good teacher recommendation to a struggling YA reader who needs to build some confidence.  

The book include a lot of popular culture references that will date the narrative quickly. (But then, I don’t think Michael X’s dangerous days were meant to become classics) Overall, the plot feels thrown together. Don’t get me wrong, it flows well and is understandable. But it feels quickly written, which then lends itself to being quickly read without much thought.

Activities to do with the book:

Discuss how tension is created and maintained throughout the novel. Create illustrations to accompany the book or used found objects to recreate settings and scenes. Have students design their own alien—write a description and illustrate it.

Also, a teacher could briefly teach on the anatomies of the human ear and brain. (You’ll understand why once you have read the book)

Favorite Quotes:

“If this were a movie instead of real life, this would be the part where in a strange, ominous voice I’d say, “Take me to your leader!”
But since you are far more important in making a difference in this world than the earth’s leaders, and last time I checked on the Internet those leaders seem to have more than enough on their plates, and for the most part I’m not a total dork, I’ll just go with a simple “Hi”” (p. 3).

“Now pay attention, because this is important, and also way out of the ordinary. I suspect you’ve never seen, or heard about, or read anything like this before” (p. 30).

“And if you think about it, creating is the best superpower of them all. It’s a whole lot better than being part spider” (p. 45).

“After all my thinking and searching through annals of every strategy and warfare book ever written, I’d actually gotten the ploy from The Iliad, by Homer. Achilles gets Hector outside Troy’s walled gates to fight him one-on-one while both their armies watch. Check it out in The Iliad. Great Story!

(On a mythology note that is also spoiler-ish, there’s a scene that parallels Zeus’s birthing of Athena.)

Time until the ALA Award Winners Are Announced: 20 Days

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