Familiar light fare for fans of the Wayside and Bailey School series, the Zack Files, Ghostville Elementary, etc., etc.

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SCARY SCHOOL

Kent takes school integration to a new level with breezy tales of “learning, horror, and mayhem” at a grade school attended by a mix of humans and monsters.

As narrated by a chem-class fatality, the school year kicks off with the near-total consumption of a fifth-grade class by its strict teacher, Dr. Dragonbreath, for not following Class Rule Number Five: “No student is allowed to read this sentence.” Further reductions in the student body come thanks to a temperamental vampire teacher, the aptly named Principal Headcrusher, the peckish librarian/disciplinary officer Mrs. T (for Tyrannosaurus) and a variety of “accidents.” By year’s end, the survivors of these and such other hazards as the playground’s “well of a thousand screams” have also had a gross and vivid lesson in anatomy from a half-zombie who shucks off his skin to show his organs in action, enjoyed delicious lunches prepared by a student of WereWolfgang Puck and are ready for a climactic round of Ghoul Games against a worldwide array of all-monster schools. Aside from being mostly monsters, the cast looks like a typical set of students and teachers in Fischer’s frequent spot-art sketches. A dedicated web site offers further goofs and games, and the author repeatedly promises sequels.

Familiar light fare for fans of the Wayside and Bailey School series, the Zack Files, Ghostville Elementary, etc., etc. (Funny horror. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 21, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-196092-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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The potential strength of this presentation would be as a read-aloud to grade-schoolers, who would, no doubt, enjoy the...

SIR SETH THISTLETHWAITE AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CAVES

From the Sir Seth Thistlethwaite series , Vol. 2

Two imaginative 10-year-old boys embark on a disbelief-suspending adventure in this second of a series.

Sir Seth, Sir Ollie and Seth’s “steed,” Shasta (his dog in a realer world), discover Puddlewater Pond is draining down into a netherworld, the Queendom of Claire, populated by short Khaboumians, the evil ogre Ooz, his tree-eating dinosaur and some almost-flying umbies. These creatures are coming into conflict, creating confusion, consternation and complete chaos.  Most of the narrative consists of frequent alliteration, puns and embedded rhyming words that don’t scan into poetry. “Sir Ollie stuttered with surprise, his eyes the size of banana cream pies,” for example. A certain amount of this is amusing; after several pages, it simply becomes unbecomingly uneven, creating a nearly noxious narrative. Some of the concepts are strangely Seuss-like: The Umbies travel in pairs, under-umbies under over-umbies that use their apparently otherwise useless wings to provide shade for their under-umbies. Chuggamugga bugs, like mugs with legs, carry water for wayward desert wanderers. While the pace of the plot careens, its superficiality is strangely startling. Cartoonish black-and-white illustrations add an amusing aura to a plethora of pages.

The potential strength of this presentation would be as a read-aloud to grade-schoolers, who would, no doubt, enjoy the difficulties the adult reader would encounter, wading through all the wacky words. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-926818-94-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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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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