Hale, Bruce. The Curse of the Were-Hyena (Monstertown Mystery #1)
July 5th 2016 by Disney-Hyperion
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Carlos and Benny are alarmed when their teacher, Mr. Chu (who is usually enthusiastic and a lot of fun) starts exhibiting weird and disturbing behavior. They start their research into what might be wrong with him at the local comic book store, which is run by a former woman wrestler from Samoa, Ms. Tamasese. She has some knowledge of the supernatural, and lets them know that they might be dealing with a were-hyena! Also helping is a man from the local museum and his secretary-- but they are more trouble than they are worth! Luckily, the boys also have help from Tina, who studies karate. The group finds out that they need to find the alpha were-hyena and neutralize it in order to set all of its victims free. If they can manage, will they make the town of Monterrosa safe, or will there be more problems in the next book in the series.
Strengths: Have to say that this was not exactly what I wanted to read on a summer afternoon, but Hale's writing has such fantastic turns of phrase, excellent multicultural characters (I mean, the Samoan Slammer was AWESOME!), and such a good use of reluctant middle grade heroes that I am now so taken with it that I may have to buy a copy. Here's the description of the principal's office: "As usual, the office smelled of home-baked brownies, Magic Markers, and fear." Snorted several times!
Weaknesses: This is very much like the David Lubar Monsterific Tales series, as well as the Coville Magic Shop series. Occasionally, I get students who ask for books about monsters, but not as often as you would think.
What I really think: Yeah. Going to have to buy this one and hand sell it because it was REALLY fun.