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Book review: Author's debut novel 'Janitors' introduces a new magical world

Published: Friday, July 31 2015 11:35 a.m. MDT

"Janitors" by Tyler Whitesides will surely change kids' view of their school janitors. (Shadow Mountain Publishing)

"JANITORS," by Tyler Whitesides, Shadow Mountain, $17.99, 312 pages (ages 7-12)

Filth. Rubbish. Grime. We all know our school custodians “fight” these things, but in Tyler Whitesides’ new book, “Janitors” (Shadow Mountain, $17.99), the idea is taken to a literal level. In the imaginative story, Whitesides crafts a secret world of janitors, including dangerous invisible creatures, magic “Glop” and “Glopified” cleaning supplies (ever wonder how brooms fly?).

The story centers on 12-year-old Spencer and his classmate Daisy, who get tangled up with the corrupt Board of Educational Maintenance and have to learn some magical skills from friendly janitors in order to battle for education.

In reading the first installment of the series, readers might be disappointed if they're expecting the likes of the “Hunger Games” or “Harry Potter” series. The simple language in "Janitors" and child’s take on adult characters make the book a better target for children 7-12-years old. Seen through a child's eyes, the story is captivating and relatable.

This is Whitesides’ first novel and, at times, it shows. The descriptions are a bit mechanical like the author tried too hard to describe absolutely everything.

The main characters are rushed so quickly into the fantasy elements of the story that it’s hard to find what’s happening believable at first.

The author should be congratulated for the incredibly original idea, and children will enjoy reading about a character their age have adventures like these.

A rough introduction won’t necessarily condemn a series. It will be interesting to see where Whitesides takes the story in the future.

Oh, and your children will gain a much better appreciation for their school janitor.

IF YOU GO ...

What: Tyler Whitesides book signing and launch party

When: Saturday, Aug. 6, 12:30 p.m.

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

Web: www.deseretbook.com, www.tylerwhitesides.com

Also ...

What: Tyler Whitesides book signing

When: Saturday, Aug. 13, 3 p.m.

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

Web: www.deseretbook.com

Also ...

When: Saturday, Aug. 20, 3 p.m.

Where: Fort Union Deseret Book, 1110 Fort Union Blvd., Midvale

Web: www.deseretbook.com

Email: hbowler@desnews.com

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company