ISBN 10: 0062060031 / ISBN 13: 9780062060037
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From author Adam Rex comes the first book in the Cold Cereal Saga—a hilarious, clever, and action-packed adventure series with an educational hook.

Scottish Play Doe—aka Scott—is used to being a little different. Sometimes he hallucinates things no one else can see. But then one of these hallucinations tries to steal Scott's backpack, and he comes face-to-face with an honest-to-goodness leprechaun named Mick who's on the run from, of all things, the Goodco Cereal Company. With the help of his friends Erno and Emily, Scott and Mick uncover Goodco's sinister plans—and take the first steps in saving the world from the evil cereal company.

Like the Artemis Fowl Series and the Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series, the Cold Cereal Saga takes elements of familiar mythology—in this case, Arthurian legend and Irish folklore—and reimagines it in the modern world with a cast of relatable characters and myriad magical beings. The story is told from multiple points of view, and there are dozens of illustrations—including "commercial breaks"—and stories within the story.

Supports the Common Core State Standards

Review: Jon Scieszka Interviews Adam Rex

Jon Scieszka is the National Ambassador for Children’s Literature emeritus and the bestselling author of more than 25 books for kids, including The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, Math Curse, Robot Zot!, and the Time Warp Trio series. Jon founded Guys Read to encourage a passion for reading among young boys, with the philosophy that boys love to read most when they are reading things they love.

Jon Scieszka: Cold Cereal is the only novel I have ever read that combines Celtic folklore, cryptozoology, Arthurian legends, codes and puzzles, Freemasonry, dragon biology, TV cereal commercials, Shakespeare, and a rough outline for the musical version of Huckleberry Finn. How did that happen?

Adam Rex: Honestly? After my last novel (Fat Vampire) I wanted to get back to writing for a middle-grade audience, and I had, like, six or seven possible novels already started to some degree or another. And I began to notice some connective tissue between a few of them. My idea about the twins who are test subjects in a sinister experiment had an evil breakfast cereal company in it. The one about the kid who catches a leprechaun trying to steal his backpack in a bus station restroom had a character who’s at home both in ancient folklore and cereal commercials. The one about the modern-day pop-star knight who has to slay a dragon and the one about a time-traveling Merlin had European folklore connections, too. So I started mashing them all together and found they complemented each other better than they had any right to. And then I added a musical Huck Finn.

Scieszka: In writing so extensively about leprechauns and clurichauns, unicorns and unicats, goblins and pookas and other assorted Fair Folk... don’t you worry that you might have revealed too much? About both Queen Titania’s court and your middle-school reading history?

Rex: Ha! (Cough.) Yes. My middle-school reading history was pretty dire, actually, as practically everything I read outside of school was some officially licensed Dungeons & Dragons novel. Which is to say: I read a lot of fantasy, but I didn't even read any good fantasy. To this day I still haven't read The Lord of the Rings, which is, of course, the basis for everything I liked in middle school until I discovered comic books.

And the really stupid thing is: seventh-grade me probably would have resented a lot of what I try to get away with in Cold Cereal. “That’s not what goblins are like,” I would have said. “There’s no such thing as a unicat.” But I think I would have read it anyway for the humor because I was also big in Douglas Adams at the time. And still am.

Scieszka: Two two-part questions: What is the best or worst cereal commercial you’ve ever seen? And why? What is your most favorite or most hated breakfast cereal? And why?

Rex: As a kid I actually wasn’t allowed any of the kind of “sugar cereals” that the Goodco Cereal Company makes in my book. Which is probably why the commercials made such an impression on me. I was like Lancelot, offered a glimpse of the Sangrail but not allowed to enter into its presence. You see what I did there? Tied together breakfast cereal and the Arthurian legends? That’s what’s called “staying on point.”

I think the worst commercial I ever saw was an eighties spot for Apple Jacks. A group of girls are sitting around talking about how great Apple Jacks are, as girls do, and the main girl’s dad butts in and asks why the girls like them if they don’t even taste like apples. The girls look at one another, stumped and flustered, until the daughter blurts out, “We just do, okay?” “Okay.” Dad shrugs and leaves. And when he’s out of earshot, the main girl tells her friends, “He’s old,” and they all giggle. Even as a kid I knew this commercial failed on every level.

My favorite cereal commercial was anytime there was a crazy mix-up at the Crunchberry factory.

Scieszka: The brother and sister spats and tricks between Erno and Emily and Scott and Polly are so real that I have to ask: Do you have an annoying younger, older, or twin sister?

Rex: I was the annoying younger brother. But we got along better than most. I also have a sister who's twelve years younger—too young to have been a source of any conflict in my life. If anything, I wanted my younger sister to tag along on my outings—I got more attention from teenage girls when she did.

I think I developed my sense of sibling rivalry from watching my childhood best friend’s family. They fought so much they even had their own family-only derogatory term for each other: “buh.” “You’re being a buh,” they’d tell a brother or sister who was judged at that moment to be difficult or annoying. It’s an excellent word and one I hope to teach to my own children someday.

Scieszka: The briefly described musical of Huckleberry Finn sounds perfectly awful. Can you share any more details about Oh Huck! with us?

Rex: Well, as the book says, the play’s narrator is a talking raft (Riff-Raft), and it features a rapping scarecrow. I also imagine it to be the sort of Julie Taymor–inspired production where the Mississippi is represented by a hundred dancers in leotards doing the worm or whatever. And in our supposedly post-racial society, Jim is played by Nathan Lane. But that’s all I can say about it.

Scieszka: What more can you tell us about the next two books in this promised “Magically Delicious New Trilogy”?

Rex: In book two, Unlucky Charms, my heroes will travel to England, attempt to expose the queen as two goblins in a queen suit, travel to the enchanted isles of Pretannica to plead for humanity from Queen Titania herself, and possibly slay a dragon while they’re there. Along the way they’ll accidentally ingest the Salmon of Knowledge; learn the true history of Arthur, King of the Britons; and if I have time, face the unspeakable terror of the Ronopolisk. Probably not that last thing.

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