Monday, April 21, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Awesome, Almost 100% True Adventures of Matt & Craz

After reading The Awesome, Almost 100% True Adventures of Matt & Craz, I wanted to have a magic pen (but for writing, not drawing)! This was a really fun story, a great way to end off my project to read all of the nominees for the 2014 Silver Birch Award. Now I can settle back and see which one kids will pick as the winner – the official voting day is this Wednesday. It won't be an easy choice.

Today’s Pick: The Awesome, Almost 100% True Adventures of Matt & Craz

by Alan Silverberg

Aladdin, 2013

From Amazon:

Best friends Matt and Larry “Craz” Crazinski couldn’t be more different. Matt loves order, while Craz lives on the edge. The boys share a passion for cartooning, but thanks to the school paper gatekeeper (and kind-of bully), Skip Turkle, it seems their cartoons will never be published.

But then the boys discover a pen that promises to help them DRAW BETTER NOW!—and quickly realize it’s no ordinary pen: Whatever they draw comes to life!

They start small with their drawings—bags of cash, cool gadgets. Next, they get their pesky English teacher to take a unique and extended vacation. But when the boys get a little bolder in their magical drawings, they realize that things don’t always end up as perfect as the art they create....

In this funny, slightly zany, and ultimately heartwarming story, Sid Fleischman Award–winner Alan Silberberg demonstrates the power of friendship—and that the best life is not always sketched out in advance.

My Take:

I had fun reading this story about two friends, their magical pen and their crazy schemes to get their comics noticed (and all the trouble that got them into). The story moved along quickly and held my attention. The humor was fun and the problems that Matt and Craz encountered seemed totally appropriate for the situation and their age.

As a writer, I was thinking of re-reading this story to help me with structuring one of my own novels, since I liked the pacing.

Opening Line:

“If Matt was a better cartoonist and Craz hadn’t been dropped on his head as a baby, the gym wouldn’t be a gigantic beehive.”


“Craz pulled the “Cartoon King” comic out from beneath his T-shirt and was glad he hadn’t ruined it with any of his body sweat, though he did give it a quick whiff to make sure it hadn’t absorbed any unwanted smells.”

“He instantly pictured himself as much younger, rolled into a tight ball in his bed, humming so he didn’t have to hear the exact words of the fight—just the dull, barking sounds of it.”

Other Info:

Alan Silberberg is a cartoonist/TV writer who lives with his family in Montreal, Canada.

On the author page of his website he says: “Even as a kid I found that telling stories was powerful - bullies, friends, teachers gave me space whenever I made stuff up that filled the gaps in my life that needed filling.”

Other books by this author include:

Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze
Pond Scum

For more, visit Alan Silberberg’s website. 

If you’re interested in what I have to say about the Silver Birch nominees, I’ve posted about each one: Eldritch Manor by Kim Thompson, Nobody's Dog by Ria Voros, Ultra by David Carroll, The Curse of the Dream Witch by Allan Stratton, The Hypnotists by Gordon Korman, Record Breaker by Robin Stevenson, Yesterday’s Dead by Pat Bourke, Neil Flambe and the Tokyo Treasure by Kevin Sylvester and The Metro Dogs of Moscow by Rachelle Delaney.

You can find more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday books by checking out Shannon Messenger’s blog! Shannon is the founder of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday and the author of the middle grade novels, Keeper of the Lost Cities and Exile (Keeper of the Lost Cities #2).


  1. Always admire people who can write funny stories. This sounds like a fun one.

  2. What an intriguing title and the story sounds like fun. I'm glad to hear you are using this book as a motivation in your own writing. That is always one of my main goals for reading MG.

    1. I try to think about the writing side and the structure, but often I get caught up in the story.

  3. A little like Harold and the Purple Crayon for middle graders... :-) I'd like a magic pen for writing.

  4. This sounds like a fun book! I think it'd be one my sons, who love art, would really love.

  5. OMG, I want that pen! lol Probably not the response we're supposed to have, but I haven't read the book yet so can be excused for my ignorance. ;)

    All the same, I'll sacrifice that ignorance for a good story (isn't that the exchange we always make?) and put this one at the top of my stack. Thanks for the recommend, and happy MMGM!


    1. It's a fun one. I hope you get a chance to read it.

  6. Great review. I like the name Craz! Could it be that he's one "y" away from Craz-y?!

  7. This one sounds really cute. Thanks for telling me about it.

    1. I probably wouldn't have read it if it wasn't nominated for the Silver Birch award, but I'm glad I did. It was fun!


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