Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Scary School, By Derek the Ghost- Review

From Goodreads:
You think your school's scary?
Get a load of these teachers:

"Ms. Fang," an 850-year-old vampire
"Dr. Dragonbreath," who just might eat you before recess
"Mr. Snakeskin"--science class is so much more fun when it's taught by someone who's half zombie
"Mrs. T"--break the rules and spend your detention with a hungry "Tyrannosaurus rex"

Gargoyles, goblins, and Frankenstein's monster on the loose
The world's most frighteningly delicious school lunch

The narrator's an eleven-year-old ghost

Join Charles "New Kid" Nukid as he makes some very Scary friends--including Petunia, Johnny, and Peter the Wolf--and figures out that Scary School can be just as funny as it is spooky

I love a middle school story with good storytelling and awesome illustrations.  The combo is a no-fail in my books and it has the added benefit of being a good enticement to reluctant younger readers who may need the smattering of illustrations to graduate them into novels.  Besides, it's just pretty, and who doesn't love a pretty book?

Scary School was an excellent example of a great graduation novel.  Filled with funny short anecdotal stories, which come together to tell the greater story of an unusual school and it's quest to participate and win at the annual Ghoul Games, not to mention fabulous illustrations, I can see it winning over all sorts of readers.  

The wonky concept of a school accommodating average students as well as ghosts, monsters, vampires, dinosaurs, dragons and many other assorted dangerous creatures, is an excellent set up for the comedy of its successes and failings.  Kids die from irritating teachers, or are turned into vampires from asking the wrong questions, but its all told in an amusingly careless tone.  
"That afternoon, twenty-nine sets of angry parents stormed into Principal Headcrusher's office.
Randall's dad barked, "I knew his chances of survival weren't good, but on the first day? Come on!"
"Listen," said Principal Headcrusher, "if your child was eaten, it's because he or she directly disobeyed one of Dr. Dragonbreath's very simple rules.  You all signed the waiver forms.  There's nothing I can do about it!"
I can't imagine a little boy who wouldn't love this, and many bloodthirsty little girls as well.  But there are a number of excellent chuckles for older readers also, and an "A" team reference at the end had me chortling away for a good couple of days after finishing it.  It was that kind of off the cuff humour that set this book apart for me.

A great read, for a wide range of readers, I highly recommend it for the young reader in your life.  I think I'll be sharing my copy with my 6 and 4 year old nephews this spring when we stop in Boston on our way home from the BEA.  I can already picture us reading it together.

Scary School, by Derek The Ghost
Published by HarperCollins, June 2011
Buy Scary School on Amazon
My copy kindly provided by the author, that's right folks, a ghost sent me a package on Amazon.  I love being a reviewer sometimes!


  1. We had so much fun reading this book. The writing is hilarious. Derek the Ghost is our new favorite writer! Highly recommend it to all ages.
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