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Whitesides weaves magic in second book of 'Janitors' series

By Megan Gladwell

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Oct. 13 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

"JANITORS 2: Secrets of New Forest Academy," by Tyler Whitesides, Shadow Mountain, $18.99, 351 pages (f) (ages 9-12)

Magical mops, invisible creatures, secretive janitors and a trio of courageous sixth-graders help Utah author Tyler Whitesides weave magic again with his second installment of the Janitors series: "Secrets of New Forest Academy."

This clever fantasy novel, written for a tween audience, begins where the first book left off. Spencer Zumbro enlists the help of classmate Daisy Gates to battle their elementary school’s dangerous Toxites, magical monsters that infiltrate classrooms and inhale the brainwaves of unsuspecting students. The creatures exhale distraction, apathy and sleepiness, inhibiting children’s ability to learn. Spencer and Daisy are able to see the invisible creatures after using magic soap in the first book.

Who is behind this outrageous conspiracy to undermine education? The BEM, or Bureau of Educational Maintenance, which secretly releases Toxites into schools everywhere. In book one we learn that Spencer and Daisy join the Rebel Underground, an organization of good janitors that fights the monsters to save education. But now Walter and Marv, the trusted school janitors, are gone. Spencer and Daisy are left alone to defend their school.

When Spencer learns he is in danger because the BEM wants a mysterious package from his missing father, he is whisked off to the remote New Forest Academy. Daisy and Dez Rylie accompany Spencer on a weeklong recruitment trip at the exclusive private school, but their safety is compromised by Slick, the repellent, pock-faced BEM employee who has replaced the academy’s janitor. Spencer and his friends are trapped, and they soon learn the amazing secrets of New Forest Academy as they become embroiled in a life-threatening battle.

The janitorial equipment, magically converted into weapons, steals the show. Flying brooms, mops with strings that stretch to entrap enemy victims, chalkboard erasers that explode into clouds of paralyzing chalk dust, toilet plungers to suction heavy objects and turn them weightless, and tool belts that diminish the size of the unwieldy weapons are some of cool gadgets the Rebel fighters employ.

Whitesides creates a terrific story packed with action to enthrall his readers. Some of the dialogue is silly. Daisy’s character is sometimes gullible to the point of ridiculous, and bully Dez says some really dumb things. Other than vivid descriptions of the grotesque Toxite monsters, which could frighten very young readers, there is no inappropriate material.

If you go ...

What: Tyler Whitesides book signings

When: Tuesday, Oct. 16, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Where: Deseret Book — Sugarhouse, 2274 S. 1300 East G6, Salt Lake City

Web: www.deseretbook.com, www.tylerwhitesides.com/#/tour

Also ...

When: Friday, Oct. 19, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Where: Deseret Book, 468 N. 990 West B2, American Fork

Also ...

When: Tuesday, Oct. 23, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Where: Deseret Book, 135 N. 545 West, West Bountiful

Also ...

When: Thursday, Oct. 25, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Where: Deseret Book, 4151 Riverdale Road, Riverdale

Also ...

When: Friday, Oct. 26, 6:30 -8:30 p.m.

Where: Deseret Book, 1309 N. Main St. Suite 150, Logan

Also ...

When: Tuesday, Oct. 30, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Where: Deseret Book — Jordan Landing, 3751 Center Park Drive, Suite 110, West Jordan

Also ...

When: Friday, Nov. 2, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Where: Deseret Book, 4151 Riverdale Road, Riverdale

'Janitors 2' book trailer

Megan Gladwell is an Indiana native and mother of four. She blogs at bookclub41.blogspot.com and her email is mlgladwell@gmail.com.

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