Today I’m featuring the hilarious tale of a sixth-grader who’s forced into sleuthing by the spirits of zoo animals who need him to solve the mystery of their deaths.
This book is written by Aaron Reynolds, who I knew in (what feels like) a past life—he wrote a full-scale musical that we performed for the kids’ ministry at my previous church, way back before I had kids. (His wife wrote the music and he wrote the lyrics—and they were both in the musical too!) I have so many amazing memories from that time, and to this day, I still find myself singing my main song in the musical at random times—it obviously had an impact on me. 🙂 I’ve been following Aaron’s writing career ever since I happened upon Creepy Carrots in my local library, and I was thrilled to see that he had a middle grade book coming out, so I snatched it up on NetGalley!
I decided a few days ago to step out of my comfort zone and contact Aaron directly to see if he might be willing to write a top ten list for me, and he was gracious enough to agree. Make sure you also scroll down to check out Aaron’s list of his top ten addictions…
The Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter by Aaron Reynolds
Illustrator: Hugo Cuellar
Series: The Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter #1
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on 4/28/20
Genres: Middle Grade, Paranormal
My content rating: MG (Some MG-level violence, Hints of romance)
Rex Dexter is itching to have a dog. He was practically born to have one. His name is Rex, for crying out loud. It's a dog's name. Any pooch is preferable, but a chocolate Labrador is the pinnacle. The best of the best. The dream of all dreams.
When Rex's B-Day for Me-Day finally arrives, his parents surprise him with a box. A box with holes. A box with holes and adorable scratchy noises coming from inside. Could it be? Yes! It has to be! A . . . a . . .
One hour and fourteen minutes later, the chicken is dead (by a steamroller), Rex is cursed (by the Grim Reaper), and wild animals are haunting Rex's room (hounding him for answers). Even his best friend Darvish is not going to believe this, and that kid believes everything.
Rex's uninvited ghostly guests are a chatty, messy bunch. And they need Rex to solve their mysterious deadly departures from the Middling Falls Zoo before it happens again.
New York Times best-selling author Aaron Reynolds delivers a wickedly funny debut title in The Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter series.
Fans of Reynolds’s hilarious picture books will be delighted to find that his sense of humor has transferred perfectly to this longer form. This book made me laugh out loud over and over again. I did not want to put it down! The thing Rex wants most in the world is a chocolate labrador. He’s obsessed. And he’s sure he’s left enough hints for his parents to ensure that he’ll get one for his birthday. Except things don’t go exactly as planned, and after a series of humorous misfortunes, Rex ends up with a very different kind of pet—a very flattened dead chicken. The dead chicken is soon joined by a slew of dead animals from the local zoo. He figures the only way to get rid of them is to help them solve the mystery of their deaths.
I absolutely love the bond between Rex and his best friend Darvish, who’s often the one to come up with the actual good ideas, even though Rex tends to think he’s come up with them all on his own. Rex would very obviously be a mess without him. I’m also a fan of Rex’s crush (which he would deny to the ends of the earth), the incredibly smart and savvy Sami Mulpepper. This little touch of romance is super cute and awkward and relatable. Now, I will say Rex himself might not quite be seen as a role model; he lacks impulse control and makes himself the center of attention at all times. He tends to drive his teacher and his parents just a little bit crazy. But he’s so funny and lovable that it’s hard not to be on his side, even when he’s kind of messing things up. And he does learn a few lessons along the way (and face some consequences for his lack of focus). Role model or not, lots of kids will probably relate to him. What he lacks in good manners, he makes up for in pure positive energy and enthusiasm. And we can all laugh at his exploits along the way.
This is one of the most entertaining books I’ve read in quite a while, and I highly recommend it!!
***Disclosure: I received an ebook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
“I was practically born to have a dog. After all, my name is Rex. Rex Dexter. It’s a dog’s name, for crying out loud. It’s one step away from being named Fido. Or Bandit. Or Spot.
With a name like mine, I should obviously own a dog. But I don’t.
See this empty backyard? It is devoid of canine.
See the foot of my bed? It suffers from absence of pooch.
See this kitchen floor? It is without dog dish.
It is a sad state of affairs.”
About the Author
Aaron Reynolds is a New York Times Bestselling Author and has written many highly acclaimed books for kids, including DUDE!, CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR, CAVEBOY DAVE and the Caldecott Honor winning CREEPY CARROTS. He has a passion for kids’ books and seeing kids reading them. He regularly makes time to visit schools where his hilarious hands-on presentations keep kids spellbound. Aaron lives in Chicago with his wife, 2 kids, 4 cats and anywhere between 0 and 10 goldfish, depending on the day.
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – The BIG CUP
Who knew you could improve on this marvel of culinary engineering? But you can. Big fat cup. I lay awake dreaming about these. Seriously.
- Good Ice
Yep. Sounds ridiculous. Our tap water is terrible, so we buy ice by the bag. But not just any ice. There’s a brand called Chicago’s Classic Cubes. Every ice cube is completely square. And thick. And beautiful. It only costs a little more than regular cheapo ice, but oh, the joy of good ice.
- Dungeons & Dragons
I’ve been playing this nerdtastic role-playing game since 5th grade. I still have my Monster Manual from 1981. Who knew that geeks would inherit the earth and this game would come back with a vengeance? I’m happy to report that I still DM a group every Wednesday night.
- John Grisham Novels
It is my guilty pleasure. I love fantasy. I love sci-fi. I love kids books. But these legal thrillers are the M&Ms of literature and I can eat them by the bowlful.
- Jane Austin Movies
I blame my wife.
- World of Warcraft
I have a dwarf warrior named Kaarbunkle that I’ve been playing for the last 10 years. Don’t judge.
The more adventurous, the better. Ideally to a country or area I’ve never been to. It can feature nice hotels, youth hostels, sleeper cars on a train, I don’t care, I love it all.
Oh, the wonders of an unagi roll. Is there anything better?
I can’t stop watching this show. I know it’s been, like, 40 seasons. So sue me.
- My wife, Michelle
I love my children. But they are older and I’m quite happy to see them off having adventures of their own. But being without my wife for too long…it’s not a good thing. If I have to go on tour or travel for an extended period of time, where I have to be away from her for awhile…it’s like something in me literally breaks. I’m a mess without her.
I always love reading these top ten lists. Who knew there was such a thing as good ice? I guess we all do now. And I have to say that I have my own fond memories of Aaron’s wife, Michelle, so it makes me extra squishy and happy to see his sweet words about her.
What was the last book that made you laugh out loud? Do you plan on reading this one? I want to know!