Allison's Book Bag

Julius Caesar Brown and the Green Gas Mystery by Ace Hansen

Posted on: September 2, 2014

Searching for a book to entice reluctant readers? Look no further than Julius Caesar Brown and the Green Gas Mystery by Ace Hansen. With its outrageous plot, wacky characters, and light-hearted toilet humor, this 100-page read will be a sure-fire win with middle-school boys.

Let’s start with that outrageous plot, which all centers around the “fart” word. One weekend, while Julius and his brother are with their dad in his apartment, Augie let one loose. Nothing unusual about that, except then a green cloud rises up and swirls around Augie. Within minutes, the whole family is headed to the emergency room. Except as soon as the family arrives at the hospital, their day gets even crazier. Outside the hospital are crowds of worried folks; inside the air in the waiting room is clogged with green fog. A doctor comes out and starts to separate those with green gas from those with standard emergencies. As patients yell questions at the doctor, an announcement flashes across the television screen about a global medical crisis. Yes, you read me right. The world is in a panic, and scientists are feeling baffled, all because of…. green farts. 🙂 Boys will love this book!

Next I’ll turn to those wacky characters. Actually, there is nothing unusual about our hero, but still Hansen draws mileage from his name to create humor AND inform us about his character. For example, Julius writes, “The real Julius Caesar conquered the world. All I wanted was to conquer a simple spelling test.” A little later, one of Julius’ classmates calls him “Salad Boy” which Julius informs readers is the Caesar salad kind or “the kind with stinky fish and way too much garlic”. As for his family, some of their inconsistent actions create humor. Moreover, their presence leads to some of the conflicts. For example, thanks to Augie accidentally spilling chocolate milk on it, Julius is without a laptop. Without his laptop, Julius is less able to conduct research to find the solution to the green gas mystery, and therefore less likely to win the million dollar prize, and…. more. 😦 Also, thanks to neither of his parents believing that Julius could possibly solve the mystery, they refuse to take him to the library, or to see his eccentric neighbor who might have all the answers or to the library, or…. help him in any way. 😦 Finally, there are the rest of the characters, which includes his best friend’s annoying little sister, who likes to decorate Julius’ treehouse with scented stickers, prattle next to him on the bus, and leads Julius to take alternate routes home. The cast also includes that eccentric neighbor, who barely talks more than two words to anyone.

Actually, what I appreciate most about the secondary characters is that while they do serve to enhance the humor, Hansen also uses them to gently strips apart stereotypes. For example, just by being her girlie self, the little sister ends up saving Julius from a bully. As for the disfigured lady, who in older books would have been called a witch but now is feared as a zombie, Julius finds out she’s a genius who had a stroke. In reality, her cat is to be more feared than her, because the cat uses its claws to scratch anyone who ticks it off. Hansen even throws in some lessons about how to handle school bullies such as playing tricks on them and standing up to them. In true-to-life fashion, however, Julius doesn’t actually win over the bully, change the bully’s mind, or anything uplifting of the sort. Instead, I get the idea that should there be a sequel, Julius will continue to face challenges from this bully.

While Julius Caesar Brown and the Green Gas Mystery is unlikely to win any literary awards, and may offend households who disallow toilet humor, it should have high appeal with middle-school boys. It should easily find a home with those fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate.

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

How would you rate this book?

 

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