I’ve finally finished reading Janitors by Tyler Whitesides and… I can’t stop singing praises. I can’t wait to get my hands on a Glopified broom, strike the ground, and rise into the sky.
Oh I know I said it sounded cute and was just another typical LDS youth fantasy–which it is–but any critics who think this oversaturated genre is out of fresh ideas is wrong. I was extremely entertained with and hooked by Whitesides’ wonderful world of janitors.
It starts with a young boy, Spencer, who moves to a new town in southern Idaho (Idaho, of all places) with his family for a year of house sitting. His dad mysteriously disappeared a few years previous, and his frazzled mom is trying to make ends meet. After trying some soap left on the counter of the boys bathroom at his new school, Spencer starts to see… things. Flying things, slimy things, crawly things, furry things. The fact that he can see these strange creatures gets him (and eventually his classmate Daisy) into a lot of trouble with the school janitors and a mysterious governmental organization called the Bureau of Educational Maintenance.
Not only was I impressed with Whitesides’ vivid imagination, but that he inputs values into the story. When Spencer and Daisy get into trouble for doing things they thought were right (I’m tip-toeing here so I don’t give anything away.), they are asked to search their feelings and come to understand that if the things they did was rule-breaking didn’t make them feel good, they were wrong to do in the first place. He teaches that rule-breaking, even with some of the best intentions, isn’t right and has negative consequences.
A friend of mine informed me that she went to high school with Tyler Whitesides, and that he signed for more books. I say all the more power to him! It was really cool to find out he worked at Mt. Logan Middle School while in college and that’s where he got some of his crazy/fun ideas from. I’m eager to read what he comes up with next.
So here’s my reasons you should read Janitors by Tyler Whitesides, in a nutshell:
- He’s from Cache Valley. How often do we get a local who shoots for the stars and makes it?
- It’s a fresh take on a genre that is full to bursting.
- Hilariously entertaining.
- It teaches kids to value education and know the difference between right and wrong.
- It justifies all those wishes we had as kids that something was excitingly different about the mundane elements in our lives.