Horton Halfpott or The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor or The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset (by Tom Angleberger, Amulet 2011)
From Goodreads: Tom Angleberger's latest, loopiest middle-grade novel begins when M'Lady Luggertuck loosens her corset (it's never been loosened before!), thereby setting off a chain of events in which all the strict rules of Smugwick Manor are abandoned. When, as a result of "the Loosening," the precious family heirloom, the Luggertuck Lump (quite literally a lump), goes missing, the Luggertucks look for someone to blame. Is it Horton Halfpott, the good-natured but lowly kitchen boy who can't tell a lie? Or one of the many colorful cast members in this silly romp of a mystery.
Opening Lines: "There are so many exciting things in this book--a Stolen Diamond, snooping stable boys, a famous detective, the disappearance of a Valuable Wig, love, pickle eclairs, unbridled Evil, and the Black Deeds of the Shipless Pirates--that it really does seem a shame to begin with ladies' underwear."
My Review: Tom Angleberger is a funny man. My eldest (then 13) fought over who would read The Strange Case of Origami Yoda first. (He won). Horton Halfpott is very different in style and subject matter from Yoda, but has the same spirit of inventiveness and clever use of language.
Whereas Origami Yoda was set in a modern middle school, Horton Halpott takes place in what I would guess is 19th century England. (Angleberger claims Charles Dickens as an inspiration. And I seem to be on a Dickensian England kick--as my book choice of a couple of weeks ago, The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, was also set in this era.)
In another similarity with the afore-mentioned Incorrigibles, this novel has a wry and omniscient narrator, a vast cast of characters, short and speedy chapters, and fun illustrations by the author himself. In short: it's a ROMP!
If your middle grade reader likes a not too demanding funny bone tickle, Horton Halfpott would be a most excellent choice.
H.R.H. Shannon has been in New Orleans all week. (I'm looking forward to her dispatches from ALA. Shenanigans, surely!) I'm not sure if she's doing all the linking at her blog this week. If not, you can find other MMGMers on my sidebar.