Book with a funny title
Dead Fred will capture imaginations
by Darla Welchel
Sometimes a book comes across my desk with a name so peculiar that I can't help but pick it up.
That was the case with Frank McKinney's Dead Fred, Flying Lunchboxes, and the Good Luck Circle. I know - it's a mouthful.
This is McKinney's first attempt at writing children's literature - he is more widely known in the business world for his best selling real estate self-help books.
Written for and about (in part) his own daughter and her group of friends, Dead Fred is a trip into the magical and fantastical world of High Voltage, an underwater domain where manatees talk, clown fish like to play jokes, and where King Fredrick the ninth (Dead Fred) is in grave danger from a maniacal shark bent on taking over the kingdom.
When 13-year-old Ppeekk (pronounced Peekie) moves to another new town, she dreads the awkward making new friends period. She also dreads having to ride to school with her father who she thinks is out of touch with her.
When she chooses to walk to school, she discovers a dried up little fish that comes to life and her world, as she knew it, begins to change rapidly. Along her journey to save Dead Fred, she befriends the most unlikely group of allies such as Mini Romney, Quark, McFlyo, Firecracker and Danimal.
McKinney demonstrates his panache for nicknames and his childlike imagination in the pages of this delightful book written with the tween set in mind. Many of the unusual names are ones he has given his daughter's true-life friends on their real-life walk to school each day.
Although McKinney is a businessman, he has not lost his own childlike imagination. Dead Fred will help even the most imagination-challenged child to explore their waning talent for make believe as the characters ride on the backs of talking manatees, talk to a giant clam or fight the evil Megalodon, all during a Category-5 hurricane.
I only had one issue (you know I always do); parts of the book seemed a little too New Age for my preference. I also have issues when characters are so openly disrespectful to the adults around them.
The latter issue does work itself out in the end, and after checking out McKinney on dead-fred.com, I was not as bothered by the New Age slant.
As usual, if a parent has any qualms, they should read the book first - or better yet, take the adventure with your child. You will be glad you did.
You can find Dead Fred in hardback at dead-fred.com for $25. Amazon.com has new and used copies from $10-16 and even has it for your e-book device for $10.
Proceeds from the sale of this book go to one of McKinney's philanthropic endeavors - Caring House Project Foundation.