CONGRATULATIONS on your acceptance to Scary School! The drawbridge lowers at 7:30 a.m. and classes begin at 8:00. Your homeroom teacher, Ms. Fang, will provide you with textbooks, garlic, and goblin repellent. If you are late, you will have to report to detention with a hungry T.rex, so please be on time and mind our fingers and toes at all times. Some of your classmates may bite.
Derek the Ghost, an eleven-year-old former student, who now haunts the school hallways, narrates Scary School. He writes down everything that happens and uses the book to report this to you. The most exciting news is always a new student. When that new student is human, going to a school for monsters and other creepy creatures, and carries the moniker Nukid, it is indeed something to report.
Poor Charles Nukid, he has no idea where his parents have sent him for school. Charles is the type of kid who follows rules and regulations, teachers and administrators, to a tee. Because of this, Charles ends up in detention before he even makes it to class. His offense is wearing the school uniform, which no one wears, making Charles Nukid look rather beastly. With teachers like Ms Fang, named such because she is a vampire with only one fang; Dr. Dragonbreath, a diabolical creature who eats all but two students the first day of class; and Mr. Snakeskin who looks like a happy, harry Hulk, Nukid stands little chance of surviving his first year.
Scary School is a wacky book. The characters are lively, the teachers odd and gruesome, and the principle has a secret that is key to the story. At the beginning to each chapter is an illustration, usually of the monster highlighted that chapter. The illustrations are spot on with the text description, which can be odd and complex. As the story progresses, more illustrations can be found within the pages of the chapter. One I am especially fond of, for its attention to detail and realism, are the gargoyles on pages 181-182 (not that I have ever seen a real gargoyle).
I liked the book, not the story. Let me explain. The protagonist, the main character, is Charles Nukid. He is the main subject of chapter one. Then, he goes missing until two short paragraphs in chapter four and one sentence in chapter six, when he finally arrives to class from detention. Charles then disappears again until chapter nineteen when the excitement of the Ghouls Games begins.
What this book is is an introduction to all the characters. Scary School is simply a set-up for the series the author hopes to write. As a story about the school’s new kid, or a human kid in a monster school, it fails. Even the ending does not exist. It is merely a way to take you into the next book by way of a secret chapter, which then continues online. The other thing that I did not like was the over use of the teasers more about that later, and more about that in future books, the latter proof that this book is more marketing than story. Kids may not even notice or care, and may find those funny.
Having said all that, I did like the book. I enjoyed the well-developed characters and the world they lived in. Kids will love the jokes that make you want to groan and the ones that are silly. I smiled and laughed, groaned and moaned, and yucked and eewed my way from page to page. Scary School is not at all scary. No one will have nightmares because of reading this. It is one of the funniest books for kids I have read in a while. There are even things to learn, like anatomy, humorously taught correctly. The book is quite creative, and the illustrations will delight kids, as they did me.
This book is a good one for boys. Not only is the main character a young boy, so is the narrator. The author has no problem tapping into his youth. If the remaining books in the Scary School series are actual stories, I think they will be winners. It will be a good series for boys, including those who are reluctant readers. I have an ugly premonition that a sequel will be unleashed upon us. When the next book will be out may be up to Derek the Ghost, but I am guessing in the fall. I would love to give Scary School five stars; maybe the next book will earn those stars. I sincerely hope so. The author really knows how to write for boys and that is something much needed today.
Author: Derek Taylor Hunt Illustrator: Scott M. Fischer Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books Release Date: 2011 Number of Pages: 235 ISBN: 978-0-06-196092-5