FORGOTTEN BOOK: THE SNARKOUT BOYS AND THE AVOCADO OF DEATH by Daniel M. Pinkwater, 1982
This is the 100th (!) in my series of Forgotten Books.
So we finally reach the century mark in Forgotten Books! Who would have thought that two years ago when I started this that anyone would still be reading or caring about these titles? So, before getting to the book, I have to say “Thank you” for all the support.
I knew I wanted to do something special for this week’s title and I happened to find another copy of Daniel M. Pinkwater’s 5 NOVELS at Half Price the other day. And since Mr. P is one of my favorite writers and this is one of his best books, it seemed only appropriate to go here.
The first thing to notice with Pinkwater is that he loves names. The names of characters, schools, objects are all important to him. So let’s get Dramatis Personae for this novel. Our heroes are Walter Galt and Winston Bongo, two students at Genghis Khan High School. They are the practitioners of Snarking Out, the practice of sneaking out of their apartments in the middle of the night and going to see features at the all night Snark Theater. They meet a fellow adventurer Bentley Saunders Harrison Matthews (aka Rat), a student at George Armstrong Custer High School who has green hair. Her uncle Flipping Hades Terwilliger has been snarking out for more than 15 years, going to the Snark Theater every evening during that period. Rat’s family has a Chinese butler names Heinz.
As they are visiting one evening, Uncle Flipping mysteriously disappears and it appears that Wallace Nussbaum, the master criminal with a penchant for orangutans is behind it. And if Wallace Nussbaum is involved then Osgood Sigerson, the world’s greatest detective, and his assistant Ormond Sacker must be nearby.
During their search for Uncle Flipping, they encounter Captain Shep Nesterman and his dancing and singing chicken Dharmawati. Or Winston’s uncle The Mighty Gorilla, a professional wrestler. And Bignose of Bignose’s Cafeteria. All vital parts of the tale of the Alligatron, a deadly vegetable weapon.
Describing Pinkwater plots is similar to describing the color of light. They are wild, chaotic, and somehow perfect for the story being told. They are the ideal books for children with an active imagination who are tired of THE GIVING TREE and other pap forced on them. This will make them think, just as YOUNG ADULT NOVEL (which was a Forgotten Book more than a year and a half ago) also did.
I have introduced many friends to the works of Mr. P and they have repaid me many times over. One such friend, Tina Jens, a wonderful writer from Chicago, took me to see a theatrical production of this novel in 1995 in Chicago. While not as wild as the book, it was a very good production with an audience made up of all ages.
Mr. Pinkwater still puts out the occasional book, though not as often as during the 1980’s. They are all still worth your effort to find.
Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more Friday Forgotten Book reviews at her own blog, and posts a complete list of participating blogs.