by Charles Gilman
Eugene Smith, illustrator
Back Cover: DON’T BE FOOLED by his friendly smile, his perfect manners, or his shiny red apple. Student council president Howard Mergler is actually a sinister bug-monster in disguise—and he’s summoning swarms of roaches, wasps, fleas, and head lice into the corridors of Lovecraft Middle School! TRwelve-year-old Robert Arthur is the only student who can stop him, but he’ll need help from his best friends: the school bully, the school ghost, and an extremely courageous two-headed rat.
First Sentence: “Don’t move.”
Cover: Howard Mergler, President of Student Council
Lovecraft Middle School is in the midst of a head lice epidemic. Several students—boys and girls—are now without hair, having to have it shaved off to get rid of the lice. Howard, student council president, promises to bring in exterminators, and he does. Something must have gone wrong. Not only are the bugs not exterminated, thousands more are making their way into the school.
Robert Arthur, the eleven-year-old who helped defeat the Slither sisters in book two is now a year older but still in the middle of the mayhem. He knows Howard is really a big pest, literally. To find where these bugs are headed, Robert allows his pet rat—two-headed rat—Pip and Squeak into the vent so it can follow all the bugs. With a camera on its back and rope around its waist, Pip and Squeak will take pictures of the bugs’ habitat and then Robert will pull it back to safety. Nearly at the end of the rope, the rat comes upon a three-foot gap and attempts to jump the chasm, despite Robert’s command to stop. They do not make it, falling down the shaft to who knows where. The force of the fall pulls the rope out of Robert’s hand.
More determined than ever, Robert finds a portal and crosses over to the world of Crawford Tillinghast, the mastermind behind a plan for world domination, using student’s bodies as vessels for his monsters. He needs to find a key to the pool’s drain station in order to find Pip and Squeak. Robert is not alone. A hundred eyed blob, with the ability to blend into its surroundings, watches Robert and then pounces, holding him captive for Howard and Crawford. They are going to place Robert’s soul into an urn and then use his body as a vessel for another monster. Robert must find a way to escape the creepy crawly bug watching guard less than four feet away.
At Lovecraft Middle School, more and more bugs are entering an underground habitat, waiting for Howard’s command. Robert, Glen, and Karina must find a way to stop the infestation. But how can Robert help all tied up waiting to involuntarily offer his body for the service of Crawford Tillinghast?
Teacher’s Pest is the third installment of the Lovecraft Middle School Series. I am not a fan of bugs. Okay, I hate them. I let the cats corner the buggers and then I scoop them up and dispose of them. I could not wait to get the third installment of the Lovecraft series and start reading, but was a little pensive about opening it when I saw the title and the cover. Reading a book about pests was not high on my list. A promise is a promise so I dove in.
Teacher’s Pest has more action than the first two books. The narrow escapes are imaginative, as are twists you will not see coming. Nothing in the book will cause nightmares or sleepless nights for middle grade students. A scratchy head or arm is quite possible, but a small price to pay in order to read this continuing tale of monsters taking over the world, beginning with one middle school.
Teacher’s Pest involves less of the student body and more of Robert. A few teachers are involved, as are Karina and Glen, the school ghost and school bully, respectfully. The best friends have become the school’s savior. Robert’s pet Pip and Squeak, his mother and Howard also figure into the book. The Slither Sisters ended with Robert seeing Howard turn into a bug shortly after he handed Howard the student council [president position, which Robert handily won. This was a great way to give astute readers a hint about the next book. Teacher’s Pest also has a hint, this time involving Robert’s mother.
Speaking of the ending, I loved how the major conflict was resolved. I found it creative, imaginative (was that redundant?), and believable. As they should, the kids solved the problem. I knew something terrible would happen to Pip and Squeak and it did. For me, this was the worst moment. Kids will enjoy this third installment.
Teacher’s Pest continues the Lovecraft Series but can easily stand on its own if you have not read book one or two. The illustrations are creepy if you are not a fan of bugs, but appropriate for the story. As in all the Lovecraft Middle School books, Teacher’s Pest has a cover that “morphs” into a second portrait showing both the student and his alter ego. The cover should attract many eyes when stacked on a table in near extinct bookstores.
Teacher’s Pest might appeal more to boys, but if you have read Professor Gargoyle and then The Slither Sisters, you will definitely want to read Teacher’s Pest. It is worth scratching your head and arm until you reach the end. Now let’s bring on book four!
COMING SEPTEMBER 24, 2013!
Substitute Creature: Tales from Lovecraft Middle School #4
by Charles Gilman quirkbio Eugene Smith, illustrator website Quirk Books website facebook twitter Released on May 7, 2013 PRE-ORDER NOW! ISBN: 978-1-59474-593-5 176 Pages Ages: 9 and up . Copyright © 2013 by Quirck Books, used with permission. Text: Copyright © 2013 by Charles Gilman aka Jason Rekulak Illustrations: Copyright © 2013 by Eugene Smith
DONATED TO LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY
- Review: “Professor Gargoyle (Tales from Lovecraft Middle School #1)” by Charles Gilman (birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)
- How to turn your kid into a regular reader (dailyherald.com)
- Review: The Slither Sisters: Tales from Lovecraft Middle School #2 (kid-lit-reviews.com