Title: How To Curse In Hieroglyphics
Author: Lesley Livingston & Jonathan Llyr
Synopsis: Meet Cheryl and Tweed, two 12-year-old girls who are identical twins (just not with each other!), cousins, and best pals. After a mysterious “incident” involving a plane trip when they were very young left both girls orphaned and twin-less, they are raised by their grandfather, the owner/operator of the tumbledown Starlight Paradise Drive-In movie theatre in the middle-of-nowhere town of Wiggins Cross. The girls have bonded closer than sisters through a shared love of B movies and buttered popcorn, and they firmly believe that there must be something more out there in the world than meets the eye. Something … weird.
They’re about to find out just how right they are.
When Dudley’s World O’Wonders, a threadbare travelling carnival, rolls into town, the citizens of Wiggins welcome the distraction. But even “Colonel” Winchester P.Q. Dudley, the carnival’s shady owner, doesn’t realize that among the fake and fabricated “wonders” of his travelling sham-show rests the authentic mummified remains of a young Egyptian princess … bearing a shockingly real curse!
It’s up to Cheryl and Tweed, with their encyclopaedic knowledge of monster movie lore, and their flyboy friend Yeager “Pilot” Armbruster to save the town-and themselves!
Huge thank you to Penguin Canada / Puffin for sending me an ARC of this book.
How to Curse in Hieroglyphics may be perfect in every way.
Okay, it might not be perfect to every reader, but it was, in a sense, perfect for me. How to Curse in Hieroglyphics stars two twelve-going-on-thirteen year old cousins, who may have one of the most beautiful friendships I’ve ever seen. Reading about Cheryl and Tweed’s adventures with B-Movies and ACTION! often reminded me a lot of how my childhood best friend and I played together. We were all about imagination, being creative, exploring the world around us, and adapting when things often didn’t go our way. This is how Cheryl and Tweed deal considering the amount of loss they have had in their life.
Lesley Livingston and Jonathan Llyr do a great job of creating a memorable cast of characters. While the girls are clearly the highlight, it’s hard not to adore Pilot, Shrimpcake and Pops. Everyone, right down to the villains, are colourful, over-the-top and extreme in the best way possible. The town of Wiggins Cross is essentially Bizzaro-world, and yet no one seems to mind in the slightest. Crafting the world C+T inhabit must have been a lot of fun, as its completely evident in the writing. There’s just so much to love about the cast and the world, that I found myself laughing along with a lot of the insanity that ensued. The ending equally had me in stitches!
One unique aspect of the novel is that parts of it are storyboarded. Whenever Cheryl and Tweed yell action, the readers are transported into their imagination and insanity, from badass commandos to super spies. They also have the power of their patented C+T hand shake, which is quite silly, yet adorkable nonetheless. The artwork is excellent in the storyboards, and having the script and dialog on the side really does make the reader feel as though they are in the middle of an action-packed scene.
The actual mystery in the novel is quite wonderfully drawn up with just enough B-movie cheese to make it work. In fact, the book provides a plethora of B-movie knowledge at the reader, and while this generation may not know a lot about some of the films in question, for old fogies like myself, it was welcomed and very much appreciated. I also loved our Egyptian princess, which I think how Livingston and Llyr wrote her character was, in fact, surprisingly clever.
How to Curse in Hieroglyphics struck all the right chords with me, and did it in such an honest and genuine way. It’s been a long time since I found myself giggling my way through a very tongue-in-cheek middle grade novel. If you love middle grade and this book isn’t on your radar, you may need to remedy that, because this book has so much charm and quirk, that I think it could get even the most stubborn of readers to laugh out loud. What can I say? I think Livingston and Llyr may have completely won me over, and I look forward to reading more of C+T’s crazy adventures!
Also, I love Shrimpcake. He’s a cute pie.