By Tyler Whitesides
Have you ever fallen asleep during math class? Are you easily distracted while listening to your English teacher? Do you find yourself completely uninterested in geography? Well, it may not be your fault. The janitors at Welcher Elementary know a secret, and it’s draining all the smarts out the kids. Twelve-year-old Spencer Zumbro, with the help of his classmate Daisy “Gullible” Gates, must fight with and against a secret, janitorial society that wield wizard-like powers. Who can Spencer and Daisy trust and how will they protect their school and possibly the world? Janitors is book one in a new children’s fantasy series by debut novelist Tyler Whitesides. You’ll never look at a mop the same way again.
This is one of those cute books that you find on the shelf and just smile while you’re reading. It’s a great choice for middle readers and it has a very relatable situation combined with magic and kid-like wonders. Meet the Janitors, they’re different from custodians. The Janitors are actually a secret society that fights the Toxites that infest schools and cause havoc for children trying to learn. Each Toxite has breath that makes children distracted, sleepy, or just plain apathetic. It’s up to the Janitors to destroy the Toxites so kids can learn in school. This story is creative and a fun way for kids to look at their janitors in school and imagine a world beneath their own. Spencer is a fun protagonist, a kid who hates making a mess and frankly comes across as a tad OCD, but it never stops him from getting his hands dirty to help his friends and family. This book is a great addition to the books from Shadow Mountain publishing like Cragbridge Hall and Fablehaven. It’s geared toward boys, but with Daisy as a character it also works just fine for girls. My only issue with this book was simply because it is for a younger audience and I found the obvious theme of ‘saving education’ a bit preachy, but for a kid they won’t be bothered by it at all, in fact it probably will be great. I was just rolling my eyes at a few parts (But I’ve read the next few books in the series and it all pans out just fine and I don’t have an issue with it anymore)