In our family, Janitors 4: Strike of the Sweepers has been one of the most anticipated books of the year. You should have heard the squeals of delight when Emma and Lucy saw the book as I dramatically removed it from it’s packaging. The Janitors series is one of our favorite series and unlike the first three books, I had to actually WAIT for this one… how unfair!
Spencer and Daisy spend their days with Walter, experimenting with glop and discovering new formulas to turn every day janitorial supplies into magical tools. With glorified squeegees at their sides, Daisy’s new pet at their back, and a secret society of brilliant young allies scattered all over the country; the rebels attack the BEM at the heart of their institution with the intention of stopping them once and for all. The only hope they have is to summon the founding witches and together, they will save the world.
It should come as no surprise that we really enjoyed this book. While we all really enjoy our nightly reading ritual, it’s not often that our kids beg for Matt to read during the day as well. As with the previous three books, there is a lot of symbolism and character lessons in Strike of the Sweepers. One of my favorite scenes is one where Walter is having a heart to heart with Spencer.
“Do you really think we can win?”
Walter’s hand slipped from Spencer’s shoulder and the old warlock blinked slowly a few times. When he answered it was with a question, “What do you think it means to win?”
It seemed like an easy answer, and Spencer gave it right away, “It means that we beat the BEM. We get what we want, and we all go home safe.”
“If that’s your definition of winning,” Walter said, “then I’m afraid my answer is no. We won’t win.”
Spencer felt his heart sink, as though Walter’s pronouncement would seal the Rebels’ defeat. He looked down at the ground. “Don’t you have hope?” Spencer muttered to his old mentor.
“I’m full of hope, Spencer,” said Walter. “If what we’re doing is right, then I believe we will win.”
“But you just said…” Spencer began.
“Winning doesn’t mean we all go home safe,” Walter cut him off. “That’s a thing of fairy tales and bedtime stokes. Real life will demand much more of us, and we have to stand ready to pay whatever price is needed to gain the victory.” Walter signed heavily, as though trying to exhale some of the weight on his mind. “Because victory will come to those who fight for what is right. It won’t come without its fair share of pain and suffering. No victory comes without sacrifice. But it will come. We just have to stay the course.
“… This isn’t a game. We’re fighting for the future of humanity. When our final goal is this important, the stakes go up.”
I think we can all sympathize with Spencer here. We just want to do what we need to in order to protect or family and loved ones, and we want everything to go back to our romanticized version of “normal”. But life isn’t that easy, and battling evil is never without it’s casualties. Too many people pass the hard jobs over to other people because it’s too hard to contemplate the cost of standing up for what is right. As I wait for the next installment of Janitors, I hope that more people can see that the battles Spencer and his crew fight aren’t that different from our own, and I pray that more of us are willing to stand up for truth, our children, and our future.