Four good-hearted monsters repeatedly save the day by concocting clever ways to foil the schemes of their evil families and schoolmates.
Their challenges range from getting the residents of Hill House (“across from Shirley Jackson’s tomb”) to laugh rather than scream at a trio of ectoplasmic pranksters to saving the Plasma family after vampire neighbors issue an invitation to…dinner. Happily, Will, Mina, Brian, and Linda—respectively, a shy ghost, a vampire who prefers beet juice to blood, a brainy zombie, and a curse-reversing witch— rise to every challenge by putting their heads and magical powers together. Bardin adds a zany element to the well-leaded narrative with daffy cartoon illustrations, and if some of them are crowded to the point of looking cramped, he does at least endow his popeyed figures with a range of skin colors, natural and (more commonly) otherwise. (Will is a classic white sheet, Mina has light-blue skin and fuchsia hair, Brian is a delicate puce, and Linda has green skin and white hair.) Hoena tucks sufficient tongue-in-cheek references into the narrative to keep older readers amused, should they happen upon the book.
Never a dull moment at Frankenstein Elementary. (Fiction. 7-9)