A preteen horror take on Groundhog Day.
Artie’s first day at Ardmore Middle School starts off badly: Before he even leaves the house he’s fallen out of bed, zapped himself plugging in the cellphone charger and been squirted with syrup by his little brother. It gets so radically worse that by the afternoon he’s received the dismaying news that a gang has been dispatched to beat him up on the way home at the Principal’s request. Before that can happen, to his astonishment, he’s suddenly waking up in bed. Was it a dream? Hard to say, because again he falls out of bed, zaps himself, gets squirted and goes on to another first day that is nearly the same but even more disastrous. And then again. Each round gets shorter but weirder as Artie’s struggles to head off catastrophes he knows are coming lead to bizarre accidents, wild chases, scary discoveries in the school’s dank, dark basement and, at last, a truly memorable encounter with an oversized custodian who disintegrates into a pack of weasels. After that, it’s almost a letdown when Stine explains Artie’s misadventures with a logical and obvious revelation.Great fun as ever, supplied by genre’s most prolific and reliable master. (Humorous horror fantasy. 9-11)