Gilman, Charles. Teacher's Pest (Tales from Lovecraft Middle School #3)
7 May 2013, Quirk Books
Copy received from Baker and Taylor
After Glenn gets bitten by a gigantic purple wasp, things start to get stranger than they already are at Lovecraft. Because of a custodian's strike, the halls aren't clean and the garbage isn't collected, so bugs start entering the building in droves. Robert ends up with lice, and has his hair shaved off, but is most concerned with how Howard Mergler, that student body president that Tillinghast has put in place, is dealing with the bugs. The exterminators he hired are spraying the halls with maple syrup, and when the bugs suddenly disappear, Robert finds that they are in an underground burrow under the school soccer field. Glenn seems odd, Pip and Squeak disappear while investigating air shafts, and Robert gets caught while trying to get the key to the basement. What's going on with Glenn? Can the bugs be contained? What's next in Tillinghast's evil plans?
Strengths: Lots of gross details about the bugs; this will be too much for some children, but most will find it grossly amusing. The additional details about Glenn's life are intriguing, and I appreciate that certain key information from previous books is briefly recapped. I also like the librarian, Ms. Lavinia. My favorite quote from her is from page 66 (in the ARC): "I built streaming-video camera helmets for a two-headed rat in fifteen minutes, and you're complaining that they don't have a zoom lens?" Go, Ms. Lavinia!
Weaknesses: I'm kind of warming to this series, and I'm curious to see what happens when Robert's mother gets a job as the school nurse in book four, Substitute Creature, that comes out in June.
Stine, R.L. How I Met My Monster (Goosebumps Most Wanted #3)
1 April 2013, Scholastic Books
Copy received from Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there.
Noah (aka Bean) is plump and rather shy. He has one really good friend, Lissa, from his Sternom House apartment complex, and he would like to try out for the swim team, but he keeps having horrible nightmares about monsters chasing him and drowning him. His rocket scientist mother and pet store owner father blame his nerves over swim tryouts, and even Bean himself can attribute some of his nerves to local bully Harlan, who routinely takes his lunch, pushes him down into the mud, and generally makes his life miserable. He's glad when Morton moves into the apartment complex, but he starts to suspect that Morton may be the monster he sees cropping up all over the place. Bean is being threatened by the monster, who leaves a dead gerbil and notes for him that he's "next", and the monster finally attacks at the school's pet show. Bean gets blamed for this. Will he be able to figure out who the monster really is so he can get rid of his nightmares? And will the monster be his answer to his bully problem?
Strengths: Stine is the master of juvenile horror for many reasons. He creates monsters that are scary but not realistic at all, so even though they are scary, children know that they aren't a real threat. The chapters tend to end in cliffhangers and scary moments that turn out to be something benign, but get the blood pumping nonetheless. The adults never believe that anything bad is happening until it is way too late. There are plenty of gross things, as well as embarrassing incidents as well. (Bean is completely pantsed at swim tryouts.) While these are offered as comic relief, those are the REAL fears that children have. I think that one of the reason that children like these books so much is taht adults don't!
Weaknesses: Harlan beats up Bean and Morton for their lunches and lunch money and never gets turned in or caught? This is my least favorite stereotypical theme, and I'm immensely tired of it. I also can't think of any school that would have a pet show (The liability! The allergies!), but since this was a common theme in 1980s children's books, the inclusion of this event makes the book seem dated.
Lubar, David. Hyde and Shriek.
8 January 2013, Starscape
Love this author and need more creepy books, but even after rereading, this was confusing to me. It also seemed a little young, perhaps appropriate for grades 2-5. Middle school students want teachers that are actually mean and scary! Will pass for now, but elementary libraries should certainly take a look.
Ms. Clevis is one of
the most popular teachers at Washington Irving. Until the morning she
accidentally puts some of the wrong ingredients into her breakfast
smoothie. Suddenly she finds herself switching back and forth between
mean substitute teacher Ms. Hyde and a sweet sixth grade girl named
Jackie. Will Jackie figure out the cure before she changes into the
horrible Ms. Hyde forever?