Review by BRIGITTE ROZARIO
The Mystery in Venice / The Way of the Samurai
There's no way of fighting it. No matter how much you protest, advise and nag, your child is bound to find this series and read it. And, most of them will get hooked, too.
Geronimo Stilton is the Famous Five of the 21st century. The comforting news is that the English in the book is good, the stories set in various different countries offer lessons in Geography and culture, and at least your kids are reading!
The whole Geronimo Stilton franchise has spawned not just this series; there's also the Thea Stilton books and the Creepella von Cacklefur books – both of which have recently been reviewed in ParenThots.
Of the three series, I have to say I liked Geronimo Stilton the least. Perhaps because I had heard, seen and wondered about this series for too long. Or perhaps, because I found the main character a bit too much of a scaredy mouse and not as strong, courageous and brave as the main characters in Thea Stilton and Creppella von Cacklefur.
That said, there really is no harm in your children reading these books. They will enjoy it; they'll be reading; and they'll learn a thing or two about world culture, too.
In the book The Mystery in Venice, Geronimo finds himself in Venice after Petunia gives him a hideous crystal gondola. Although Geronimo thinks it is hideous, it is nonetheless a gift from Petunia, the mouse he really likes, so he decides to keep it. That is until cousin Trap knocks it over and the gondola shatters. Geronimo finds a message hidden inside the gondola which reads “Help! Save me! I can't M.”
Deciding to help the person who left the message in the crystal gondola, Geronimo flies to Venice where he finds himself hounded by a tourist who keeps calling him “darling.”
The Way of the Samurai teaches kids about Japan, Japanese culture and even the famous bullet train. Geronimo is volunteered to join Wild Willie, Chop Chop and Lotus Snout on a trip to Japan to help Noblemouse protect an old parchment with the incredible secret of karate from falling into the wrong hands. First, the four mice must find the parchment before anyone else does!
There are lots of illustrations in the book to make the book interesting for seven to nine-year-olds. As with Thea Stilton and Creepella von Cacklefur, the text also has random words in colour and different fonts. All this just makes the book livelier for a generation of kids who get bored easily.
Although the coloured font is irritating and distracting initially, you do get used to it eventually.
Interspersed in the story are tidbits on popular sights, foods, transportation system, shopping districts and food in the countries that Geronimo visits – in the case of these two books, it's Italy and Japan.
What makes this series all the more attractive to readers is that the author/publisher has not just come up with a story but provides details to keep kids absorbed. There is information about the main characters as well as a detailed map of Mouse Island and Mouse City. There's also a look inside the Rodent's Gazzette building where kids can get an idea of where all the different departments are and who works where.
I'm really not surprised that the Geronimo Stilton franchise is as big as it is. If you go to any book sale, chances are there will be parents hovering around these books trying to choose the ones that their kids don't already have.
I had a conversation about the series with my niece where I told her I preferred Thea Stilton and Creepella von Cacklefur and that I was not crazy about Geronimo Stilton as I found Geronimo too chicken.
She just laughed out loud.
I doubt my opinion is going to stop her, or any kids of the current generation, from reading this series. They love it.