Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Scary School by Derek The Ghost [Book Inspection]


Plot Sketch: Derek the Ghost, author of Scary School, navigates us through the halls of the only school in the whole entire world where kid monsters and kid humans learn side by side from Monster teachers. There's a dragon for a teacher, a zombie student, and the principal is a scary chick with hands like one of the Fantastic Four. You spend an entire school year getting to know students and teachers and watching them prep for the 561st annual Ghoul Games where every student competes with students from other schools that educate monsters (none of those admit humans though). Scary School gets to host the Ghoul Games this year, but there's a catch... the winners of all of the games get to eat the losers, and they win a golden Elephant and a trip to meet the Monster King in Albania!

Verdict: This is reluctant reader paradise. Each chapter reads like a short story which makes it perfect for parent/child reading together, and makes it less intimidating for readers starting out on their own. But not only is the format fantastic, the prose is hilarious and imaginative and made me laugh out loud uncontrollably in many inappropriate places including a rather stuffy doctor's waiting room where everyone stared at me. But I kept reading despite the judgement because the characters were amazing and the concept is completely fun.

This volume is mostly an introductory volume so that you can meet characters like Charles Nukid (who really is the new kid, and doesn't understand why everyone calls him by his last name), the three Rachels: Raychel, Raechel, and Frank (pronounced Rachel). It's a road map for the rest of the stories, introducing you to this world and what it has in store with a little bit of plot along the way. Don't get me wrong, it's not completely lacking plot. It's just very character heavy. Which I'm confident is going to work out well for this series, and makes this a very good starting place for the reluctant reader because it's easy to piece the story together over multiple sittings. You don't get lost in the intricacies of the plot.

This series is also unique in that it will equally appeal to boys and girls. You could sit your small family down and read it together and everyone would pay attention. Especially since there are pictures. I'm not gonna lie... the pictures are my favorite part because they are timely and only add to the story. I particularly liked it when the zombie kid's tongue fell out and he dusts it off and puts it back in his mouth and there's a small drawing of a tongue jutting into the paragraph.

Perhaps the real best part though is the web integration and the secret chapter. At the end of the book you're instructed to go to scaryschool.com for the secret chapter. But, when you get to scaryschool.com, you have to pass a quiz to get to the chapter. A couple of the questions I thought were tricksy enough to trip up a kid, (the dodo one and the uniform one if anyone is keeping track), but they didn't fool me. Or is that just me thinking I'm smarter than your average kid? Maybe I should get knocked down a few notches.

I'm not usually a fan of Middle Grade fic, but I'll definitely be keeping my eye out for Scary School #2: Monsters on the March which is due out at the end of June 2012.  Fans of Teen Wolf (M.J. Fox version) will adore this.