Review: The Fantastic Family Whipple

I received this book for free from BEA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Fantastic Family WhippleThe Fantastic Family Whipple by Matthew Ward
Series: The Fantastic Family Whipple #1
Published by Razorbill on August 29, 2013
Genres: Humor, Mystery
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Goodreads
three-stars

For every child who’s ever dreamed of being in the Guinness Book of World Records comes the story of eleven-year-old Arthur Whipple and his fantastic family of world record breakers . . .

- Most Crème Brulée Eaten in One Minute
- Highest Number of Matching Outfits Worn by a Stuffed Toy and Its Owner
- Youngest Person to Summit the Third-Highest Mountain in the World

These are just three of the 49,521 records won by Arthur’s twelve brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, unlike his siblings, Arthur hasn’t broken a single, solitary world record! But when the Whipples suffer a spate of catastrophes and a curious amount of attention from a pair of irregularly sized and unusually menacing clowns, Arthur might be the only one who can save his family from losing their collective crown . . . or worse.

First Sentence: “All the members of the Whipple family had managed to be born in the same month on the same day: March the first.”

Review:
Today, we open with a rant. Now, this isn’t really about this book in particular or anything the author did. This rant is about publishers and how they like to sneak series into our lives. Listen, I don’t mind series, though I am getting a bit tired of everything being part of a series, but what I cannot abide by is thinking a book is a standalone and it turning out to be the first book in a series. Nothing in the blurb or on Goodreads indicates that this is part of a series, but, as the last chapter makes clear, it is. HARRUMPH to this I say. I’m left feeling annoyed with the book, as though it did something to me when this is a failure of the publisher in marketing it properly as what it is: the opening to a series. Despite this, The Fantastic Family Whipple actually was a cute middle grade novel, but do be warned that it is yet another series.

Young readers are going to love The Fantastic Family Whipple, I have little doubt. World records are so compelling to children for reasons I don’t quite fathom now that I’m an adult. Even so, I remember marveling over the Guinness Book of World Records just like everyone else did back in elementary school. In library’s I’ve worked out, the Guinness Book has always been one of the most popular check outs. Kids love this stuff, and they will love this book.

Even better for young readers, the records being set in The Fantastic Family Whipple are all ridiculous, which will no doubt have the young readers chortling. For example, one of the attempted records involves a hamster-manned rocket flight and another involves hopping up and down on one leg. Even better, the Whipples participate in an Unsafe Sports competition, which I am sure will captivate young imaginations.

The cover really captures the light-hearted humor, silliness, and bombastic nature of The Fantastic Family Whipple. In addition to the hijinks, there’s also a mystery for our utterly un-illustrious young hero to solve. Arthur Whipple is the only unremarkable member of the Whipple family, but it’s his turn to step up and be important. Also, thanks to their new neighbors, the Goldwins, Arthur’s family may be joining him in his losing streak.

I did like The Fantastic Family Whipple, but this is one of those middle grade novels that I think loses a lot of its charm for an adult audience. The jokes and the situations are perfect humor for children, but, while entertaining, didn’t drive me to the heights of glee that I think they would a child. Also, I would have liked to see a bit more progress made on the mystery plot line in this book. The ending felt arbitrary and sudden.

If you know younger readers who love humor and can’t stop reading the Guinness Book of World Records, they will love The Fantastic Family Whipple. As an adult, the humor wasn’t quite my speed, so I probably will not be returning for the sequel.

Favorite Quote:

“‘So you’ve had enough of the crowd as well, eh?’ she said.
Arthur squinted. ‘Um . . . yeah.’
‘Excellent,’ smirked the girl, ‘we can be unsociable together then.'”

3 responses to “Review: The Fantastic Family Whipple”

  1. Eileen says:

    Ahh I can definitely see kids loving it, I remember a few years ago my brother and I loved books that had things like the Guinness Book of World Records, and I actually think I have a copy of The Fantastic Family Whipple from BEA that I got for my brother, so I think he might like it, after all you said about the records and how hilarious they were.

    Fantastic review, Christina! <33

    • Christina says:

      Me too. It was just an okay read for me really, but if I were younger I bet I would have loved it. Funny and cute and kids will love the idea that even the most random thing could win them an award!

  2. “This rant is about publishers and how they like to sneak series into our lives.” Hehehe, so that’s what all those tweets about series were about o.O?

    “Nothing in the blurb or on Goodreads indicates that this is part of a series, but, as the last chapter makes clear, it is.” < -- The worst is when it hits you right at the end. Was it an opening ending? Cliffhanger? Grrr... “World records are so compelling to children for reasons I don’t quite fathom now that I’m an adult.” < -- The competition. Have you ever gotten into a really heated game with someone before? I'd imagine it has to be something like that, but magnified X 1,000. Plus, in elementary school, they're always putting you against your peers. They had a Junior Olympics thing where I came from. “For example, one of the attempted records involves a hamster-manned rocket flight and another involves hopping up and down on one leg. Even better, the Whipples participate in an Unsafe Sports competition, which I am sure will captivate young imaginations.” < -- Hehee that does sound like fun. My family does something kind of weird like these competitions during Thanksgiving, but even that isn't as fun as imagining rocket flight. “I did like The Fantastic Family Whipple, but this is one of those middle grade novels that I think loses a lot of its charm for an adult audience.” But at least you can recognize that. Sounds like it’d be a good one for the libraries or for some sort of school project.

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