Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Monday, November 5, 2012

Plot Summary:
For Charles Nukid, the "new kid" at Scary School, he has no idea that his new school would be filled with monsters. On his first day, not only was he almost eaten by the giant squid that guards Scary School, he literally falls onto the lap of  Ms. T. Rex, a Tyrannosaurs Rex in a blue dress who also has a tendency to eat children when hungry. Unfortunately for Charles, he shows up wearing the "official" uniform, which lands him in detention by Mr. Spider Eyes, the hall monitor, for not wearing the unofficial official school uniform. For Charles, he lives his life by following the rules and when he doesn't it plagues him with never ending guilt (i.e., by not sleeping for a whole month because he didn't go to bed on time). When Ms. T. Rex tells him that she doesn't abide by the rules, even though she is a teacher, he starts to wonder what kind of crazy school is he attending.  However, Mrs. Fang, his 850 year-old vampire teacher, is the nicest teacher any kid could ask for. In fact, she only ate 12 kids last year so that's pretty good for most of the teachers at Scary School. As Charles adapts to his new school, he is about to experience something quite horrifying: Scary School has been nominated for this year's Ghoul Games. The object of the games is that everyone must compete in a game of their choice. For Charles, his favorite game is video games and he is confident he will prevail. Not only is this Charles' first games, it's the first games to allow human children to participate, which means that mortal children will be competing against ghouls, monsters, vampires, and ghosts. What is important about these games is that if Scary School wins, they will not only get a trip to Albania to meet the Monster King, they will finally be recognized as the only school to have both human and monster students. However, Mr. Wolfbark, Principal Headcrusher's former teacher, and huge opponent to monster-human school integration, has news that changes the game: the winner of the games must eat the losers. For the human students at Scary School, this is an event they will never forget. 

Critical Evaluation:
This book really was a lot of fun to read. Not only does it teach a valuable lesson about acceptance, the dead pan comedy outweighs the scariness of Scary School. Charles is a bit of a geek who probably doesn't get out much, but, in many ways, Scary School will force him out of his comfort zone and realize that some rules are meant to be broken. The teachers at Scary School are just hysterical. I just love that if a child (human or monster) puts one pinky toe out of line, they could be severely hurt or eaten. For example, Dr. Dragonbreath's class did not obey him at all and what did he do? He ate the entire class. Although teachers aren't supposed to eat their students, they just can't help themselves because of their monster nature and the students quickly become mindful of their behavior. Furthermore, the idea of integrating human and monster kids is a brilliant idea because both species have a lot to offer one another, especially when they are asked to team up and help one another. I also love the fact that the narrator of the story, and eleven-year-old ghost named Derek, actually befriends Charles and keeps him out of the belly of Dr. Dragonbreath's tummy. Principal Headscrusher is the driving force behind integration because not only was she the only human at the AAAAAHHHHH!!cademy, she knew what it was like to be an outcast because she is human. Her mission will not only teach students about acceptance, but respect the fact that we are all different and no species better than the other. However, her nemesis, and former teacher, happens to be the purist with a grudge against humanity who not only wants to see the demise of Scary School, but the end of integration. Personally, this is a heavy lesson for young people to learn, but Derek Kent shows the ridiculousness of segregation with over the top characterizations and diabolical schemes that makes this way of thinking beyond silly and comedic. All of the human, and monster, students come with a very different set of skills and ideas that will not only allow Scary School to thrive, but, possibly, earn them the Ghoul Games. 

Information about the Author:
According to his website:
Derek is an eleven-year-old ghost who haunts the classrooms and hallways of Scary School, writing down all the spine-tingling often hilarious things that go on there. Despite his ghostly state, Derek still enjoys reading comic books and hopes to one day become a master ninja. If that doesn’t work out, he will continue to share the fun of this very special, very secret school, so all kids can experience the scariest school on earth. Derek the Ghost communicates through the first-time ghost whisperer Derek Taylor Kent, who is a writer and performer in Los Angeles, California.

Tween Humor

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 4-6

Books Similar to Scary School:

Awards & Recognition:

“For fans of the Wayside and Bailey School series, the Zack Files, [and] Ghostville Elementary.” (Kirkus Reviews )

“[T]his is a laugh-out-loud offering that should find a broad and appreciative audienceamong boys and girls alike.” (Booklist ) 

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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