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HECK by Dale E. Basye

HECK

Where the Bad Kids Go

By Dale E. Basye (Author) , Bob Dob (Illustrator)

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: July 22nd, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-375-84075-3
Publisher: Random House

When a 20-foot-tall marshmallow bear explodes at the Mall of Generica in Kansas, young Marlo and Milton are killed and sent to Heck, where “the souls of the darned toil for all eternity—or until they turn eighteen, whichever comes first.” With other tortures, there’s school in Heck: home economics taught by Lizzie Borden, ethics by Richard Nixon and biology by Typhoid Mary, whom they dissect while she’s still conscious. And what would a journey to the netherworld be without a new friend named Virgil? Together, the threesome never abandons hope and never feels up the River Styx without a paddle, as they seek escape from this tedious and phantasmagoric world. Basye lays on thick with the wordplay and classical allusions, and readers may at times feel in Limbo along with Milton and Virgil. Humorous chapter titles, sly banter between characters and a richly imagined world ought to make this a hit for the intended audience. In tribute to old Blackbeard, who puts the “scurvy dogs” to work in one scene, rate this “Arrrrrgh.” (Fantasy. 9-12)