SCHOOL OF FEAR by Gitty Daneshvari


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 11 - 13
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The course of instruction at a school for phobic children turns out to be anything but conventional in this hyperbolically arch romp. Having carried their fears to such extremes that parents, counselors and doctors are powerless to help, Madeleine (spiders and insects), Lucy (claustrophobia), Garrison (water) and Theo (death) find themselves trucked off to an isolated Massachusetts mansion. Its facilities include a well-stocked “Fearnasium,” breakfast consists of “casu frazigu” (maggot cheese) sandwiches produced by a blind and crusty octogenarian cook/caretaker and the teacher is Mrs. Wellington, an ancient ex–beauty queen who claims to be able to train cats. Daneshvari takes this setup and runs with it, injecting plenty of droll dialogue and plunging the four students into one challenging, chaotic situation after another. Gifford’s fine-lined vignettes add suitably tongue-in-cheek visual notes. The children prove more resilient than even they expect, and the closing revelation that Mrs. Wellington’s boast is actually true is just one of several surprises that the author springs at the end. Look for plenty of eye-rolling and head-shaking from urbane readers. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-316-03326-8
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2009


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