Another lightweight creature feature, with a teeming supporting cast of ookie-spookies. (Comic horror. 8-11)

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THE NORTHERN FRIGHTS

From the Scary School series , Vol. 3

Six more-or-less-human Scary School students try their luck at frozen, all-monster Scream Academy (“Be judicious or be delicious”) as part of an exchange program.

The experiment goes well enough at first—at least there aren’t any immediate casualties—as the six are conveyed north of the Arctic Circle by giant polter-bears and thrust into classrooms filled with malign trolls, ogres, witches and worse. In chapters with titles like “The Deadly Loogie” and “Severed Head of the Class,” nerdy Charles Nukid and his quailing classmates soldier on. They squeak past a continual barrage of deadly threats to a culminating one in the form of Mortazella, a huge Ice Dragon out to destroy all the monster schools. With help from a fiery sword, some much-more-fiery hot peppers and friends like Penny Possum, whose silence literally speaks volumes, Charles prevails and returns to Scary School in triumph. As in previous episodes, the monster count is high, but the body count and the level of actual violence are low. Also as before, the author/narrator (“Derek the Ghost”) tucks an extra chapter of thrills into the series’ website. It’s billed as a trilogy finale for no evident reason except, perhaps, premise exhaustion, but that’s a pretty good one. Finished art not seen.

Another lightweight creature feature, with a teeming supporting cast of ookie-spookies. (Comic horror. 8-11) (Comic horror8-11)

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-196098-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

WAYSIDE SCHOOL BENEATH THE CLOUD OF DOOM

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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This revenger’s comedy, dotted with references to classic plays and philosophical concepts, will be a joy for pranksters and...

THE TERRIBLE TWO GET WORSE

From the Terrible Two series , Vol. 2

When pranking perfection meets the seemingly unprankable foe, who gets the last laugh?

Terrible Two Niles and Miles have been merrily pranking their favorite targets, Principal Barkin and his dim, loathsome son Josh, at school and in town all autumn long. Fed up with the plague of pranks, former Principal Barkin (father of the current one) stages a coup d’état at a school board meeting and takes back his old job. This new-old Principal Barkin is draconian in his control of the school. He hangs a sign counting the days since the last prank…which, since he avows there is no prank if no one reacts (and he never reacts), means there have been no pranks. Miles and Niles despair as one after another of their complex, devious plots are ignored. School becomes unbearable until they seek help from a most unlikely source. Can three succeed where two have failed? John and Barnett’s sophomore effort is as much fun as series opener The Terrible Two (2015). The boys’ history as rivals and their home lives barely receive mention here, so the first volume is a must-read—no hardship. Cornell’s line drawings add to the goofy, deadpan experience.

This revenger’s comedy, dotted with references to classic plays and philosophical concepts, will be a joy for pranksters and seekers of a good-hearted laugh. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1680-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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