Hard Shell Word Factory
Trade Paperback: 0-7599-3744-3
We all know how much fun it can be to sit on your porch and watch for the mailman to deliver something that you have ordered through a catalog or on the Internet. It's the excitement of finally having the three dimensional item in your hands after too long of a wait between ordering and receiving. Of course, when you’re expecting a letter from a friend or a new pen pal, and a large purple truck drops off a crate instead, you have to wonder what went wrong. That's exactly what Skye Jones wants to know in Mail Order Monster by Linda Joy Singleton.
Skye lives with her twin great-aunts. Most of the other kids in town believe them to be witches because they spend so much time brewing up something in a large caldron. Skye can't convince them that her aunts are making goat's milk cheese and goat's milk soap for their unique dried-flower baskets. These creations are sold through their mail order business. Needless to say, Skye doesn't have any friends. One lonely evening, her aunts point out that she can buy just about anything through mail order. She decides to take a look in a few of their catalogs for something interesting.
When Skye comes across an advertisement for a Special-Tee Fiend in the Kindred Spirits catalog, she’s convinced that "fiend" is a typo. After all, she misspells things now and then, so the magazine must have done the same thing. Skye gets excited as she writes to request a special-tee "friend" for a pen pal. Several days later, her inquiry is answered by a large purple delivery truck that leaves a large crate in her yard which Skye signs for in what looks like blood. Enter Hobby, Skye's new Special-Tee Fiend--a fiend for life. Hobby sets out to make all of Skye's wishes come true, sometimes without thought and causing more problems than she solves. Skye teams up with Kristen, a girl from school who has a great interest in magic. Kristen is sure that she can help Skye break the lifetime contract and help her be rid of Hobby, once and for all.
Skye, Hobby and Kristen learn a lot about friendship and fiendship through the misadventures of Mail Order Monster. It was a quick read but most enjoyable. I was surprised at the end, which is refreshing. Though it doesn’t end in the way I thought it would, I was left with a sense of completion. This is a perfect alternative to the "Harry Potter" series, light and enjoyable. It also teaches us to read the small print before signing anything.
Reviewed by MargeAnna Conrad
© December 2005