Friday, September 21, 2012

Guy Friday: Monster Horror

Stine, R.L. Goosebumps Most Wanted: Planet of the Lawn Gnomes. 
1 October 2012, ARC from
Reviewed at Young Adult Books Central

Jay is not a particularly good kid. He's really mean to Mr. McClatchy, his new neighbor, playing small tricks on him like leaning a ladder up against his house and putting trash in his mail box. His dad has little patience with him, since we find out later in the book that Jay's behavior is what caused the family to have to move. Jay is kept on kind of a tight leash, but keeps getting in trouble. He meets Elliot and befriends him, but the two end up in quick sand, barely surviving, especially after they are also attacked my evil birds who carry off Jay's dog, Mr. Phineas, who ends up being returned only to vomit on Mr. McClatchey's porch. It seems like Jay just can't stay out of trouble, and he starts to notice that every time he is doing something he shouldn't, he see lawn gnomes "watching" him. They seem to be all over the neighborhood, and even though they are too heavy for Jay to move, appear in different places all the time. Between the birds and the gnomes, it's hard for Jay and Elliot to stay safe, especially since Jay insists on going out... at night. There is a rather scary, sci-fi twist at the end that I don't want to spoil.
Strengths: I always thought that Goosebumps books were for younger students, but I can see 6th and 7th graders liking this. It's full of gross, gory stuff that isn't that frightening because kids know that the likelihood of being attacked by lawn gnomes is pretty slim.
Weaknesses: I thought the twist at the end made the book less scary, somehow. These aren't great literature, but will definitely appeal to readers who like scary books.

Professor Gargoyle (Tales from Lovecraft Middle School, #1)
Gilman, Charles. Professor Gargoyle: Tales From Lovecraft Middle School #1
25 September 2012, Quirk Books. ARC from Publisher.

Robert isn't thrilled that he is redistricted to the brand new Lovecraft Middle School, especially when his arch nemesis Glenn also ends up there. While the building is state-of-the-art, there are some weird things in it, like giant rats infesting the lockers and a spooky, cobweb filled attic near the library where Robert finds a two headed rat that he calls Pip and Squeak. When Professor Goyle, his science teacher, finds out that Robert has the rat, Robert starts to wonder what is going on in the school. He and Glenn decide to work together, and with the help of Karina, they discover that the school was built on the site of Tillinghast Mansion, where a mad scientist and several families came to a gruesome end in an explosion. The odd happenings also come in to play when twins Sarah and Sylvia are missing but then return... or DO they? The next book in the series, The Slither Sisters, comes out in January 2013. Book trailer can be found here:
Strengths: This has a really cool lenticular cover, which made me wonder where my copy of Thumbelina was. This causes some processing problems, but will certainly make this a book that students will pick up! The story is somewhat similar to the Goosebumps series-- unlikely monsters are terrorizing students. Interior illustrations are okay, and middle school students do like series.
Weaknesses: The cover should not be the best part of a book.

Some other books I looked at that I don't think would circulate well at my library, no matter how good they are: Angela Johnson's A Certain October has the same problem that her other books do-- there is a disconnect between the content (more YA problems and less action) and the format, which makes the book look very young. Just can't get anyone to read these. Nix's A Confusion of Princes would be great if I had the fantasy readers I once had, but I just don't. Mister Monday has been gathering dust. Legrand's The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls has gotten the most fabulous reviews for being a horror book, but it gets off to a slow start, and is more along the lines of Lemony Snicket. I've finally had a drop in students requesting those, and the read-alikes are staying on the shelves, too, so I'll have to pass. Zettel's Dust Girl was very intriguing, but I can't even get girls to check out  Need this year; fairies are a tough sell to my group.

My students are definitely wanting more realistic fiction, especially stuff that is funny or sports related (even the girls; the Pretty Tough series is flying off the shelves). Oddly, the only fantasy they've been requesting has been monsters, and the new R.L. Stine has a waiting list. Well, and "books like The Hunger Games". Drat. I have sucha great vampire collection now, fickle children!

1 comment:

  1. Too bad Douglas Nicholas' Something Red is an adult book. It has a young male protagonist and is currently scaring the living daylights out of me.