Hutchinson, Barry. Invisible Fiends: Mr. Mumbles
Nominated for the Cybils by Dan Green.
We start this book with Armageddon. Remember John Wilson's dictum that books for boys should have an explosion early on? The end of the world works, too.
So what's going on with Kyle? He's spending Christmas with his single mother and grandmother, but when he goes to his room, he hears a horrible scratching on the ceiling. Nothing but mice, right? Wrong. It's Mr. Mumbles, his imaginary friend, who is back and not happy. In between spine chilling descriptions of feeling watched and stalked and pulse pounding chase scenes, we find out that Mr. Mumbles, the once benign friend who helped Kyle work through some speech problems, has morphed into a huge, angry demon with sewn-shut, festing mouth and the taste for blood. Whew. Should not have read this just before bed. With the help of the enigmatic Ameena, Kyle destroys Mr. Mumbles, but his allies from the Darkest Corners are slathering at the threshold, waiting to attack in book two, Raggy Maggie.
Strengths: Perfect for my middle schoolers who want scary books. Right up there with Richardson's The Devil's Footsteps and Yancey's The Monstrumologist. I've tried to write scary scenes of people being chased, and it's not easy. This was a taut novel that also included intriguing mysteries. Is Kyle's father really his mother's imaginary friend? I want to know. Sadly...
Weaknesses: Not available in the US!!!!! HarperCollins, what are you thinking? Yes, it's possible to obtain UK published books for my library, but usually cost prohibitive. This series is not even available through Baker and Taylor, which has carried more Joe Craig, Cathy Cassidy, and Robert Muchamore than Follettt. Drat.
Also, while this book was truly awesome for my readers who like scary stories, I don't know that I will short list it for the Cybils. Had quite the mental debate with myself over this one. There was some indefinable deeper message missing, and yes, for an award I want it to be something my students WANT to read, but also something that is, on some level, good for them. Still, this one definitely should be published in the US.
Many, many thanks to Charlotte, of Charlotte's Library, who not only obtained this UK published book but was kind enough to send it on to me with an ARC of Carrie Jones' Captivate, which my 17-year-old promptly ran off with, amidst squeals of utter delight.