A journal of the books I read or would like to read.
Monday, February 04, 2013
PROFESSOR GARGOYLE by Charles Gilman
This is Book One in Tales From Lovecraft Middle School, and it is an auspicious beginning! Lovecraft fans will be delighted to have this bridge to ease their children into the world of classic horror. While less complex than Harry Potter, Lovecraft Middle School offers plenty of interest for the middle-grade reader. Robert Arthur will attend Lovecraft Middle School, a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility, while his friends attend a different school, so he's naturally apprehensive. On his first day, the only person he knows there is Glenn Torkells, the bully who has extracted a Dweeb Tax from Robert for years. He does meet a girl named Karina who seems a promising friend, but things become very strange when rats leap from student lockers on the very first day and Robert gets literally lost in the library, winding up in a strange, moth-ball-scented room from another century.
While the Harry Potter books take place over the course of a school year, the first Lovecraft Middle School book spans just three weeks, long enough for Robert and his unlikely sidekicks to learn that things are not as they seem at the school (made from recycled materials - but recycled from WHAT?) and to set up neatly the second installment, THE SLITHER SISTERS. I found this book to be great fun. The lenticular portrait of Professor Goyle that shifts to reveal his horns is inspired (my ARC also included the lenticular portrait from THE SLITHER SISTERS to use as a bookmark, and this one looks just as fun). Robert is likable and relatable, and his curiosity and fear are both warranted. I liked Karina quite a bit, and Glenn turns out to be more complex than Robert had thought.
I would say this is easier reading than Harry Potter, which may make it a good choice for reluctant readers. Fantasy and horror readers will also find much to like in the creepy halls of Lovecraft Middle School. Have a copy of Lovecraft's stories handy for more advanced readers - they'll enjoy the references even more having read some of the original material.
Source disclosure: I received a review copy of this title from the publisher.
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