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Friday, January 3, 2014

Scare Scape, written by Sam Fisher and illustrated by Sam Bosma. Scholastic, 2013. 18.99 ages 9 and up

"If the sharp fangs and hissing don't scare away attackers, the Kamikaze Cobra has one final and fatal tactic: It explodes, usually taking the attacker with it. The snake does this by detonating an explosive capsule in its skull. Skillful snake charmers have been known to successfully behead this creature before it manages to self-destruct..."

The Kamikaze Cobra is only one of the monsters to be found in Scare Scape, Morton's favorite-of-all-time comic book. He has every issue, and he loves each and every one of them. We are on our way to meeting many of them ourselves when three seemingly harmless wishes made by Morton and his siblings suddenly come true!

Why? Well, it has something to do with an old, buried gargoyle the three find in the backyard of their new home. The house itself is not new; it is instead a rundown old relic in the quiet town where their father has accepted a new job. While mowing the lawn, Morton discovers the buried gargoyle that promises to be a wish granter. Their wishes may be rash (one is not even voiced), but the chaos that results is the stuff that reminds us to be very careful what we might wish for...a new closet, more realistic Scare Scape creatures, and whatever transformative thought it is that causes Morton's brother to slowly become one of the monsters from those comics, the Greater Spotted Wargle Snarf!

As the creatures from his comics come to life and begin to terrorize the town, the siblings and their new friends must do their best to discover as much as they can about the house's former owner, Mr. John King. They need to find a way to reverse the wishes and return their lives to normal, and to do it quickly. As the mystery unravels, readers have the opportunity to meet the monsters who fill this tale with creepy terror and weird happenings.

The characters are strong. The setting is macabre. The mystery has many twists and turns.The family dynamics are authentic and in keeping with children dealing with the recent loss of their mother, and a father who tries his best to keep his family intact while also having to be the breadwinner. Fans of humorous, spooky stories are going to pay much attention to The Monster Deck found in the middle of the book, which describes each of the monsters in gory detail, and also provides a detailed image. You will know the readers who need to read this book. So, make sure you get it into their hands as soon as possible.

This is a great middle grade debut for Sam Fisher. It is sure to garner a fan base that will eagerly anticipate whatever comes next! We can only hope there will be a sequel...


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