Fangbone may be the youngest barbarian in Skullbania, he may be the smallest, but he is certainly the bravest. Years ago, the Lizard clan fought the evil Drool and won. Drool’s body was torn apart and the pieces scattered. But Drool’s supporters have been gathering the pieces and putting him back together. To protect the piece the Lizard clan has (a big toe), their sorcerer is going to send it through a magic portal to another land, called Earth. All they needs is a brave barbarian to go with the toe to protect it. Fangbone is the only one to volunteer.
Once there, Fangbone thinks an elementary school looks like a good place to hide the toe. He arrives on the first day of the school year and is immediately befriended by Bill, who introduces him as a new student to the class. “Is Skulbania in New Jersey?” the teacher asks, but otherwise accepts a small, horned, helmeted, fur loin-clothed, sword bearing barbarian in her classroom as an eccentric kid.
Fangbone needs to recruit an army to help him keep the toe safe and class 3G needs a morale boost. It’s a match made in heaven when Fangbone enlists the help of his whole class. In book one they help him fight Lord King-Bat. In Fangbone, vol. 2: The Egg of Misery, Fangbone is tricked into hatching a Feathered Skeeve and needs the class to help him overpower the animal.
Class 3G seems to be the class for kids with ADHD or other learning issues, but it is not overtly stated. When checking to make sure Fangbone is, indeed, in her class, the teacher asks, “Can you write your name? Can you read?” When Fangbone says that he can’t, she says in teeny type, “Ok…ok…you’re in the right class.” If you blink, you might miss the reference.
These are such fun books. They are clever, but not obnoxiously so. I love the clueless adults who all try so hard to be politically correct. All the third graders dress up like Fangbone? It’s a cultural exchange! Fangbone believes that the sun is the eye of a giant cycloptopus? We must respect other’s religious observations! The pen and ink drawings, highlighted with orange, perfectly fit the playful nature of these books. These are great for first grade and up, (lots of bonking things on the head, but no blood or real violence).
Fangbone: Third Grade Barbarian, vol. 1
Fangbone: Third Grade Barbarian, vol. 2: The Egg of Misery
by Michael Rex
Putnam Juvenile, 2012
Publisher Age Rating: age 7 and up