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Image: Michael Novak

WITH HIS FIRST FORAY into young-adult fiction, Beaverton middle-school teacher David Michael Slater demonstrates genuine flair for the genre, and manages to avoid enough familiar YA fantasy tropes in THE BOOK OF NONSENSE (CBAY Publishing) to make it a respectable addition to any 12-year-old escapist’s library. Slater’s story follows the exploits of twin siblings Dexter and Daphne, who must decipher a thousand-year-old book of sorcery in order to save themselves—and apparently the rest of the world—from malevolent forces. Original touches lie not in Slater’s plotline (heroes triumph, lessons are learned, and everyone makes it home before suppertime), but in his flawed and realistic protagonists: a pants-wetting, dyslexic boy and his shy, bookwormish sister. True, J.K. Rowling has nothing to worry about—the products of Slater’s imagination are not remarkably vivid—but if your kids have already ripped through the Harry Potter series, The Golden Compass, and The Spiderwick Chronicles, then spending some time with the reluctant adventurers in The Book of Nonsense is most definitely a good idea.

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