I am revisiting the first in the The Underland Chronicles because my kids are finally old enough for it, and, rabid Percy Jackson fans that they are, they are SOOOO hungry for funny adventure. So far, listening to the audio version in the car, they are alternately spellbound and laughing like something is actually tickling them.
It's good. It's beyond good.
I think one of the keys to writing funny adventure is dialogue, and Suzanne Collins has such a gift for it. She develops speech patterns for each of her underground races and for two-year-old Boots, and leaves Gregor all the cute sarcastic lines every kid wishes he had the wit to say.
Further, Gregor assumes all the worry and responsibility of an older brother, but without getting mired in it. He's a man of action, trusting his instincts and abilities and dogged in his persistence - all good traits, but ones that he will learn should be tempered with planning and advance knowledge. It's a good journey to undertake, and proceeds so organically.
We paused the audio after the first disc (after Gregor has met the human Underlanders and has resolved to get back to the surface before his mom gets too wigged out by their absence) for me to ask the kids if they had any predictions about the plot.
They did not think Gregor and Boots were going to get back in a timely fashion. Check.
They anticipate that Gregor and Boots will meet with peril on their journey. Check.
They wanted me to put the story back on NOW. Ok, ok!
I think my library should re-order new shiny copies of these books, and I think it's time to give 'em a new push to our young friends hungry for adventure.