Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Review of Medusa Jones by Ross Collins

Ross Collins’s Medusa Jones is kind of like Rick Riordan’s Lightning Thief for second graders, which means it's more about saving face than saving the world. Medusa’s parents have forbidden her to turn her classmates to stone using her snaky hair, so the worst of them tease her without any fear of payback. Medusa’s best friends are her fellow geeks, a centaur named Chiron and Mino, a boy minotaur. In typical school story style, her enemies are the popular people: Theseus, Perseus, and Cassandra, AKA the Champions. Of course, teachers like spiteful Miss Medea aren’t much help, either.

Collins has a good time with the idea of Medusa as a semi-ordinary girl. That is, extraordinary things are introduced as if they're ordinary. For instance, Medusa's parents had to work out a deal with the post office after her grandmother turned several postal carriers to stone; the victims now populate the family garden as terrified-looking statues. Oh, and Medusa’s puppy is a too-cute three-headed Cerberus.

After getting teased at school (e.g., “Little Miss Hiss”), Medusa tries to solve her hair problem by going to a famous hair stylist—one of the funniest scenes in the book. Then it’s time for the class field trip, which is entirely unsupervised for some reason. Naturally, the Greek Geeks are thrown together with the Champions, and here’s where Collins’s plotting gets awfully predictable.

Still, in a niche where Flat Stanley sometimes seems like the only interesting option, Medusa Jones is a most welcome entry. I’d like to see a sequel, and I’m hoping the author will come up with a more intriguing plot next time in order to do justice to both his humor and to his young character, the scaly-haired and very likable Medusa Jones.


Jennifer said...

Hah, I am glad to see someone else agrees with me about this book! Although you were a lot nicer about it than I was (-:)

Kate Coombs said...

Disappointing, huh? I started getting that Saturday-morning cartoon plot feeling about halfway through, and I mean the new stuff, not Bugs Bunny! (I was surprised the generally innovative Arthur Levine let that slide.)