Attention to all you "Harry Potter" enthusiasts! I have found another book to hold you over during the wait for J.K. Rowling's 5th book to come out. "Artemis Foul", by Eoin Colfer, is a fantasy book packed with magic, mystery and humor. The humor is laced throughout the entire book and makes it a lighter read compared to "Harry Potter". But don't think it's an easier read because it's funny.  It's also filled with technical jargon used by both Artemis and the magical beings described in the story.

"Artemis Foul" is the name of a 12 year old boy who is very wealthy, highly intelligent and a terrific sleuth. The book begins with Artemis attempting to discover if 'fairy folk' actually do exist. He is looking for a particular 'sprite', a magical elf, that would have in its possession a book about magic. Information has been given to him by way of his web advertisement about where to find such a sprite. He just hopes that there really are sprites, fairies and leprechauns because he's heard that they have gold.  He needs this gold in order to reinstate his family's wealth, that was recently lost.  In order to achieve finding this sprite, he has traveled to Ho Chi Min City with his butler and together they sit down at a curbside café and wait for their contact. When a waiter asks them for more tea, Artemis immediately knows that he is facing the contact. He tells the waiter to sit down. But the waiter resists and says, "Sir, I am the waiter." Artemis is so aware and smart that nothing escapes his observations.  He responds to the waiter by saying, "You are wearing handmade loafers, a silk shirt, and three gold signet rings. Your English has a tinge of Oxford about it, and your nails have the soft sheen of the recently manicured...You are our contact and you have adopted this pathetic disguise to discreetly check for weaponry." (Part of the fun of reading this terrific book is that you know you can rely on Artemis to get out of difficult situations and solve puzzles quickly because he is so smart and always seems to know the best solution.)

When the contact shows him a Polaroid picture, Artemis feels excitement. He sees a green, multicolored hand emerging from out of dark shadows. The contact explains that she is a healer and exchanges words for wine which she is constantly consuming. The contact takes them to a darkened alley-way where Butler gives Artemis a set of night vision goggles. He sees an abnormally small figure slumped in the shadows. He soon discovers that this is in fact a true 'sprite' and immediately asks her for her 'Book'. She threatens to kill him with the magic she has in her hand. But he retorts that she is too inebriated and can't do magic anymore. Through some trickery of his own, he is able to borrow the 'Book' long enough for Butler to quickly take digital pictures of every page before handing it back to her. Once Artemis unlocks the language in the 'Book', he finds out what he needs in order to catch a healthy magical person.

In the third chapter, you find yourself immersed in Holly's world. Holly is an elf but her job is that of a leprechaun. She belongs to an elite branch of the Lower Elements Police, LEPrecon, which is what leprechaun really means. Deep down inside the earth, close to the core, all magical people live, except when some escape above ground. This is Holly's job, to catch runners that have gone to the surface. They never want the 'mud people', or real people, see them or know that they exist. But Holly finds real trouble when she surfaces from her life with goblins, dwarves and the like, to the outside to catch a runner. After catching a giant troll, she heads to a distant island because she needs to renew her magic. This is when she encounters much more that she bargained for and meets Artemis Fowl.

I haven't even touched upon the humor that is spread throughout the book, as well as the contemporary technology that Artemis and the magical people use. But suffice it to say that this book is as well written as J.K.Rowing's books. Eoin Colfer has more twists and turns than imaginable and the storyline will keep you guessing all the way through. He also developed a secret code that runs along the bottom of every page throughout the entire book. If you desire to crack this code, you can log onto his website listed at the back of the book and be led to the next level of the journey. This book is astounding and great for ages 10 through adult!  Mr. Colfer has just published the second book about Artemis Fowl, called "The Arctic Incident". His first book was so incredible; I can't wait to read this second book!

"Five Little Monkeys Wash the Car", by Eileen Christelow, is a picture book full of verse and color. The five monkeys decide that their car is a "rickety, rattletrap wreck of a car".  So, before trying to sell it, they decide to wash it, paint it and spray it with perfume.  When they push it to a spot to see how good it looks, it rolls into a crocodile swamp.  Trouble ensues, but they devise a way out of it. Ms. Christelow has illustrated the book with darling pictures as well.  This delightful book will be a fun read for 3 to 6 year olds.

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