Saturday, February 20, 2010

"This school should serve insurance policies with lunch"- Eat Your Poison, Dear

I read this book over and over again as a kid. It says "another Sebastian Barth mystery" at the top, but so far, I've only been able to track down three of these books. This one was definitely my favorite of the three.

Sebastian Barth is a fairly typical eighth-grader in a small town in Connecticut. Funny and well-liked, Sebastian apparently likes to solve mysteries and figure out strange happenings when they, well, happen. When the school nerd Milo Groot (seriously, how could he not be the nerd with a name like that? Poor kid!) throws up at lunch, it doesn't seem too mysterious at first. But gradually, more and more kids keep getting sick. Sebastian has a hunch that this is more than just the flu going around, so he volunteers to work in the cafeteria to check things out. When over 100 students throw up in one day (EWW!), the cafeteria is immediately shut down and a full fledged investigation is launched by the state board of health. Suspicion falls on spinster lunch lady Dorothy Swille, then on school bully Edward "Harley" Davidson. But Sebastian learns a hard lesson about not jumping to conclusions when he finally realizes that the culprit may be the one person nobody suspected.

The chapters in this book are very short, and very dialogue driven. We learn more about the characters by what they say than what they do. Both words and actions can be deceiving, as Sebastian finds out the hard way. The dialogue is sharp, with lots of humor, and the characters feel real. Definitely a recommended read for junior high ages, or for adults like me who still enjoy this stuff.