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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Review, Giveaway, Interview: Scary School ~5 Cupcakes~

Be sure to check out my interview with Derek the Ghost (Derek Kent) and enter to win a hardcover copy of Scary School below my review

TITLE: Scary School                              SERIES: Scary School #1
AUTHOR: Derek the Ghost                   PUB DATE: 6/21/11
PUBLISHER: HarperCollins                  FORMAT: hardcover
SOURCE: from author in exchange for honest review

You think your school's scary? 
Get a load of these teachers: Ms. Fang, an 850-year-old vampire. Dr. Dragonbreath, who just might eat you before recess. Mr. Snakeskin—science class is so much more fun when it's taught by someone who's half zombie. Mrs. T—break the rules and spend your detention with a hungry Tyrannosaurus rex!Plus Gargoyles, goblins, and Frankenstein's monster on the loose The world's most frighteningly delicious school lunchAnd The narrator's an eleven-year-old ghost!Join Charles "New Kid" Nukid as he makes some very Scary friends—including Petunia, Johnny, and Peter the Wolf—and figures out that Scary School can be just as funny as it is spooky!
 You MUST watch this trailer!

THREE WORDS: Awesome. Clever. Laugh-out-loud-funny (it’s totally one word!)

MY REVIEW: I dove right into Scary School as soon as it arrived in the mail! I mean, I couldn’t resist that fun cover and that wicked cool trailer and song! Have you watched the trailer above yet? No? Go watch it…now…I’ll wait *waits patiently*…See? I told you! And yes, that song WILL be in your head all day *smirks*

As you can tell, I LOVED this book! It’s pretty much made of awesome. Written and narrated by Derek the Ghost, an 11 year old former attendee at Scary School who died a year ago in a science lab accident…but don’t worry, he’s kinda cool with it. Derek the Ghost recounts the many adventures and happenings of Scary School. And just what is Scary School? Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like, duh! Scary School is an elementary school, open to both humans and scary children, run by scary teachers. With a principle named Principle Headcrusher, teachers like Ms. Fang and Dr. Dragonbreath, and a T.Rex as a librarian and detention monitor, well you never know what’s going to happen. In this first installment of a new series, we follow Charles “New Kid” Nukid, as he makes his way through his first terrifying year at Scary School. A year that is made even more exciting with the Ghoul Games.

Author Derek Kent, aka Derek the Ghost, offers up a delightfully funny, entertaining and positively spellbinding new series. This is the type of book that I would have gone crazy for as a kid! It’s whimsical, laugh out loud funny, smart, and full of fun surprises. The narration is a perfect blend of childlike silliness and deadpan sarcasm. This book is reminiscent of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events  and The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids series, both of which I adore.

There is a wonderful cast of characters, human and scary alike. In this book, Derek introduces us to many of Scary School’s more interesting students, such as Peter the Wolf, Jason the hockey mask, chainsaw wielding hockey player, Petunia the purple skinned flower girl, Ramon the zombie, Penny Possum who’s boss at playing dead, and Frank which is pronounced “Rachel”. Each character is engaging, likable, and perfectly childlike. I truly loved every single character, but I think my favorite so far is Penny Possum.

This is a book that kids will just get. The silly, sometimes gross, out there humor is pitch perfect for the MG and younger crowd. But, this book will surely entertain adults as well. It definitely captivated this grown up! This would make an excellent read aloud book for kids and adults to share.

But, just because this book is a hoot a page doesn’t mean it has nothing meaningful and important to offer. There are many valuable lessons to be learned in this book as well, such as:   Never judge a person by their appearance
·         Friends can come in all sorts of packages
·         Always be yourself
·         Don’t anger a vampire
·         Always follow a dragon’s rules
·         Lunchtime is NOT a good time to visit a T.Rex
·         When in doubt, use Monster Math: the bigger the number, the better.
For example: 2+2=…if you said 4 then you’d be wrong. If you said 18,478 or 2,674,198 or Infinity, then you’d probably be right…who knew, according to Monster Math, that I was a mathematical genius all along?!

I have to mention the illustrations done by Scott M. Fischer because they are awesome! His simple, yet wonderfully vivid pictures really capture the scenes and bring the book to life.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Ten year old me is sad that this book wasn’t around when she was in elementary school, but grown up me is so glad to have found this book in the present. Scary School is a superb first installment in what is sure to be a beloved and adored new series. Readers of all ages will be delighted and captivated by its humor, magic, and awesomeness. You absolutely MUST read this book!

You can learn more about this series and the author here:
You can purchase this book here:

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.

Q. What inspired you to write Scary School? Where did the idea come from?

Interestingly, the idea for the book actually came from my editor at HarperCollins. Previous to Scary School, I had written a book called RUDY AND THE BEAST: Book 1 - MY HOMEWORK ATE MY DOG! (but originally it was called Scary School: Book 1 - My Homework Ate My Dog!) The editor really liked the book, but suggested I use the title Scary School to write something lighter and funnier and more school-centric. So since I had a fan and a bite, I plunged into writing the new book, which they loved right away and gave me a three-book deal for. I drew on a lot of my favorite things for inspiration for the book. The great thing about it is that it's format allows me to create new wild things from chapter to chapter, so I drew on a lot of the classic horror motifs (gothic castles, giant squids, dragons, dinosaurs) and current horror trends (vampires and werewolves and zombies), and then put a comedic spin on it so that I'm poking fun at all of it. I'm a comedy writer by nature, but also have a deep love of scary books and movies, so I wanted to create something that would be laugh-out-loud funny, but not disappoint those seeking thrills and chills. Oh, and if any of your readers want to check out Rudy and the Beast, it's a super-fun adventure story and is available through the website and is only $2.99 on Kindle!

Q. Are any of the characters, especially the scary teachers, modeled after real people? Did you have a Dr. Dragonbreath growing up?

Yes, there are some characters that are taken straight from my life. Most obviously is the character of Jacqueline, who's my 8-year-old sister in the book, and is also my sister in real life. In the book, she builds a haunted house for me to live in, and in real life, she built an incredible, massive structure that was similar to a haunted house while she was an art student at UCLA. Many of the other characters are taken from classic horror stories - for instance there's a young Freddy Kruger and a young Jason. For the teachers, I did have a super-scary, strict teacher once in my life who reminds of Dr. Dragonbreath, and I think most kids do too, so that class is one they can relate to. But then I also took elements from some of my favorite teachers and gave Dr. Dragonbreath those qualities so that he's also likable - wearing bow-ties, and teaching in a very entertaining way.

 Q. Do you have a favorite Scary School character? Mine’s Penny Possum ;)

Oh, then you're definitely going to love Book 2 of Scary School (which comes out June 26) because Penny becomes one of the central characters and is even on the cover! I think my favorite character is probably Petunia. I like how she's strange even for School School (being completely purple and part-flower). She has a really tough time of making friends due to the bees buzzing around her all the time, and of course, she loves reading more than anything. She's very sensitive, so it's great having a character who can always be in a heightened emotional state.

Q. Can you give us any tidbits about future Scary School books? Any new characters or exciting adventures coming up?

Yes, there will be many new characters and some incredible adventures coming up! In Book 2, the students receive their prize for winning the Ghoul Games - a trip to Monster Kindgom to meet the Monster King. Well, as usual, things don't go as planned, and many of your favorite characters will have to get very lucky to make it out of there alive! You'll really be able to get a sense of what the world is like beyond on the Scary School walls, and in Book 3 you'll get to travel even farther so some of the other "scary" schools and see how those places work. One of my favorite new characters in Book 2 is an 11-year-old Stephen King, who becomes a student at Scary School and we get to find out where got all the ideas for his stories!

Q. If you were to participate in the Ghoul Games, what event would you compete in?

I'm kind of obsessed with word games, so I'd probably pick Boggle or Scrabble. I also once won a free-throw shooting contest, so maybe that too.

Q. What books did you love as a child? What books impacted you the most as a reader and writer?

One of my favorite books from childhood is Sideways Stories from Wayside School. In terms of humor, that was the go-to book for everyone at my school. There was nothing else even comparable. So when writing a book like Scary School, where the school is actually the main character, it made sense to use Louise Sachar's short-story format in telling about different events, and characters that shape the world of the school. I just made mine a horror-themed school and added in a storyline that you get to follow throughout the books. As an adult, the Harry Potter series is what made me want to write novels after ten years of working on dozens of illustrated picture books. I became enthralled with the idea of creating my own unique world like she did, filled with characters that become like family who the readers can get emotionally attached to.

Q. What made up or imaginary world from a book, tv show, or movie would you love to visit?  

How about one from each. From a book - obviously I'd love to be a student at Hogwarts. Who wouldn't?  From a TV show - it would be awesome to be living in the future on board the Starship Enterprise. From a movie - hmm.. trying to think of one not based on a book or TV show. There aren't many. Got it. How about the pre-heaven from Albert Brooks's Defending Your Life. That place is awesome.

Q. If you could magically bring one character from any book into the real world, who would it be? Why?

Johnny. I would track him down and announce that I found Bigfoot.

Q. If Scary School were to be made into a movie, would you rather it be a live action or animated movie?

Animated. It would be super-cool as a stop-motion or puppet too. We might see it as a TV series before a movie though.

Q. Ok, this is a toughie…Using Monster Math and no calculator or computer, although counting on your fingers, toes, eyes, ears, nose, tail, horns, etc is acceptable, please solve this equation:
 125 x 476 + 1234-222/11=  
Whatever the monster nearest you says it equals.

I want thank Derek for taking the time to answer my questions and giving us the chance to get to know him and his book a little better!

Derek has kindly offered one (1) Hardcover Copy of SCARY SCHOOL to give away!
Giveaway will run from 12/1 - 12/9 at 11:59 pm
  • Must be 13 or older to enter
  • Must be a GFC Follower
  • Open internationally
  • Only one main entry per person
  • Winner will be chosen randomly
  • Winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours or new winner will be chosen
  • I am not rsponsible for lost or damaged prizes as they are not coming from me
Extra Entries:
+2 Like Scary School on Facebook
+2 Follow Derek the Ghost on Twitter
+2 Fan Derek the Ghost on Goodreads
+2 Add Scary School to your TBR list on Goodreads
+1 Follow me on Twitter
+3 Tweet/Facebook/Blog about giveaway daily and leave a link in the comments
I suggest opening the entry form in a new window incase you need the links above :)



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