A discarded notebook with information on disquieting creatures like the Rhinoceraptor and the Forkupine isn’t the only surprise waiting in Stermont for nerdy Alexander Bopp and his oblivious dad.
As if the small town’s name, three graveyards and abandoned glue factory aren’t eerie enough, Alexander is assaulted on his first day by several of the tall, fluttering “balloon guys” commonly used by stores as attention-getters. Moreover, his new class turns out to be temporarily relocated to the local hospital’s morgue, his new teacher loudly nicknames him “Salamander Snott,” and he becomes an instant target for aptly named classmate Rip Bonkowski. The next day, things get worse. Cranking up the horrorlarity with googly eyed cartoon figures and sight gags on nearly every page, Cummings pitches his nervous but resourceful newcomer into a climactic, all-out battle with an entire army of aggressive, air-stealing bendy balloons. Happily, with help from Rip and other unlikely allies, Alexander ultimately saves Stermont from a pandemic of permanently flattened tires, pool toys and whoopee cushions.
An unusually promising series opener for proto-Goosebumps fans. (Light horror. 8-10)