Scary School by Derek Taylor Kent, alias Derek the Ghost (Harper, 2011, 233pp.)
Welcome to Scary School, where human children intermingle with monster kids, the school librarian is a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a giant squid lurks in the school moat, and gargoyles carry off students who loiter on the playground after recess. You may notice that the mortality rate is a little higher here than most elementary schools. That’s because children are in constant danger of being eaten by the teachers, or accidentally killed in one of Mr. Acidbath’s science experiments, or purposefully maimed by their classmates, or falling prey to Principal Headcrusher’s bone-shattering grip… But that doesn’t mean they have to stay dead. They can always come back to life as a vampire or zombie.
So, why put children in such a hazardous environment? According to Principal Headcrusher, “the more scared children are, the better they learn” (69). Honestly, who wouldn’t be able to improve their test scores if their lives depended on it? Okay, so some teachers may be a little too eager to punish student transgressions (Dr. Dragonbreath, the dragon history teacher, was put on probation last year for eating his entire fifth grade class) but some of the teachers are very kind to students. Take Ms. Fang, for instance. According to the student body, she’s by far the “nicest, sweetest teacher at Scary School” and “only ate twelve kids last year” (13, 15).
Need I say more? Scary School is a clever, kooky, irreverent children’s book that will be enjoyed by anyone who adores Louis Sachar’s Sideways Stories from Wayside School, or Mike Thaler’s Teacher from the Black Lagoon. Recommended for Ages 9-12, but grown-ups may get a kick out of it, too.
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