cover image Website of the Warped Wizard

Website of the Warped Wizard

Eric A. Kimmel. Puffin Books, $4.99 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-14-131167-8

Kimmel ventures far off his well-beaten path as folktale reteller for this madcap chapter book featuring a pair of children sucked into a video game. When Jessica and her friend Matthew find themselves suddenly inside Medieval Madness, a cyber-adventure of the frenetically wacky sort follows. In addition to the Camelot regulars (who are being held captive by Marlon, Merlin's evil clone), the pair encounters such outrageous characters as a surfer-dude centaur (Dennis, from, who sports a blond ponytail, baggy shorts and designer sunglasses) and an elf laid off from amusement park Elf Acres after a corporate takeover, then battles a crew of bikers, led by a corrupt Robin Hood (who now ""rob[s] from rich and poor alike. And we keep it!""), their green leather jackets emblazoned with the words ""Merrie Men M.C.--Sherwood Forest."" Kimmel lays on the humor pretty thick at times (""All Knights Who Cometh This Way, Taketh Thou ye Shield from ye Tree"") and the clunky references to computer maneuverings can grow quickly tiresome, but the nonstop action and sassy dialogue make this outing kid-friendly. Unfortunately, at its core, the story's zaniness feels forced. An open ending primes readers for the sequels sure to come. Ages 7-10. (Mar.)