Monday, April 1, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Neil Flambe and the Crusader's Curse

Today’s Pick:  Neil Flambé and the Crusader's Curse by Kevin Sylvester

Simon & Schuster, 2012.

From the Publisher:

The sudden disappearance of Neil’s skills in the kitchen is the real mystery in this culinary caper. Is a curse to blame?

World-class chef—and royal pain in the neck—Neil Flambé is used to serving his dishes to resounding applause and overwhelming approval. And Neil’s super-sensitive nose does more than enable him to cook sophisticated meals and run his own restaurant; it also allows him to help local police solve mysteries in his spare time.
Then things start going wrong. His plates are returned. A group of critics visit the restaurant and leave completely dissatisfied. Worse yet, Chez Flambé is closed by an order of the Department of Health!

Suddenly, Neil finds himself amid the cook-off of his life—and his entire reputation is at stake. Then he discovers the root of all his problems: a dark curse that has plagued Flambé chefs for centuries. Has Neil finally met a mess he can’t smell his way out of?

My Take:

I’ve read two of the other books in the Neil Flambé series and I enjoyed this one as much as the others. The book has an over-the-top sense of fun that keeps you wondering what will happen next. I found it a little confusing at first because some of the book takes place in the past, with Neil Flambé’s ancestors, but all the pieces come together later in the story – with the usual edge-of-your seat adventure that I’ve come to expect in a Neil Flambé caper.

From a writer’s perspective, this book offers a chance to study a distinctive voice and how to include humor. Since these books are funny but also contain a lot of action, I can see why kids enjoy them so much.

Other Info:

Kevin Sylvester is an author-illustrator who lives in Toronto. To hear an interview with him, check out this podcast from Authors Like Us.

Kevin has some tips for drawing Neil Flambe on the Simon & Schuster website. And you can see Kevin Sylvester talking about which book he would save from a burning library in this video to promote reading by the Toronto Public Library. Neil Flambé and the Crusader's Curse is nominated for an Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading award in the Silver Birch category for 2013.
Other nominated books that I’ve featured include: Dragon Seer's Gift by Janet McNaughton, Cat Found by Ingrid Lee, A Tinfoil Sky by Cyndi Sand-Eveland, The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis, Making Bombs for Hitler by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, The Dead Kid Detective Agency by Evan MundayThe Grave Robber's Apprentice by Allan Stratton, and Missing by Becky Citra.

I have previously featured Neil Flambe and the Aztec Abduction, a nominee for the 2012 Silver Birch Awards.

Other books by this author include:

Neil Flambé and the Tokyo Treasure
Neil Flambé and the Aztec Abduction
Neil Flambé and the Marco Polo Murders

Game Day

Gold Medal for Weird

Sports Hall of Weird

 For more, go to the Neil Flambe website or visit Kevin Sylvester’s blog.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was dreamed up by the incredible Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of the Lost Cities and Let the Sky Fall. Visit her blog for an up-to-date list of all the bloggers who are participating and posting about middle grade books today!



  1. Sounds fun and great that it's a good example of voice. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. The character's name alone shows the humor and voice! Love it.

  3. Funny + lots of action = great kid appeal! I like that he's a chef with a super-sensitive nose so he can help solve mysteries. Clever. And this also shows that the MC doesn't always have to be a kid.

    1. Actually, I think he's a teenager (age 15).

    2. Oh, I see! Still older than the reader, but not too old.

  4. I love that this series sounds so fun. I really must pick up the first book soon. These sound like books that kids will just eat up. :) Thanks for sharing!

  5. I first saw the Neil Flambe books several years ago in BC and couldn't find them in the States. Since then, they are beginning to appear. Hooray!!

  6. Oooh! These are going on my list. Thanks for the recommendation. :)


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