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Monday, March 16, 2015

(MMGM) Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions by Sheila Grau {review, interview, giveaway}

Welcome to Day 16 of the 4th Annual March MG Madness! Today we are celebrating Sheila Grau's Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions...

Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions
by Sheila Grau
Amulet Books
Welcome to Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions, the premier trainer of minions for Evil Overlords everywhere. No student is prouder to be at Dr. Critchlore’s than Runt Higgins, a twelve-year-old werewolf. (At least he thinks he’s twelve. He was abandoned at the school as a baby, so he can’t say for sure.) Runt loves everything about Dr. Critchlore’s. He loves his classes—like History of Henchmen and Introduction to Explosives. He loves his friends—like Darthin the gargoyle and Syke the tree nymph. And he loves his foster family, who took him in when his wolf pack couldn’t.

But not everyone loves Dr. Critchlore’s as much as Runt. After a series of disasters, each worse than the next, it’s clear that someone is trying to shut the school down. It’s up to Runt, who knows the place better than anybody, to figure out who’s behind the attacks . . . and to save his home, and Dr. Critchlore himself, from total destruction. 

Praise for Dr. Critchlore's

"An Addams Family for a new generation, filled with bizarre, peculiar, and sometimes downright silly characters.  Readers, whether evil or not, are going to love the imaginative world that is Dr. Critchlore's." 
Michael Buckley, bestselling author of the NERDS and Sisters Grimm series

"Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions is one cool ghoul school, but behind the monstrous mayhem and creepy, comedic antics is a heartfelt theme of friendship. Evil Overlords need not force their minions to enjoy this spooktacular romp!" 
Tony DiTerlizzi, co-creator of The Spiderwick Chronicles

"Werewolves, minions, evil overlords, junior henchmen, AND terrifying girl explorers. DR. CRITCHLORE’S SCHOOL FOR MINIONS has got it covered. Clever and funny. I laughed throughout!" 
Andrea Beaty, author of Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies

Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions produces the best minions in the world and any good Evil Overlord wants the best minions he or she can get. Runt Higgins, a young werewolf left at the school as a baby by his family, loves his home; foster family; and friends. Runt has managed to get a place in the Junior Henchman Program and hopes one day to become a great henchman and find his missing pack. But then strange, explosive things begin to happen and it seems someone is out to destroy the school and Dr. Critchlore himself. It’s up to Runt and his friends to save their beloved school!

Sheila Grau’s Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions is a wild and wacky romp of monster proportions! Like a sillier Harry Potter or lighter, more whimsical Addams Family, Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions is pure fun. Grau has spun an unforgettable tale with oodles of imagination, delightful storytelling, and kid-friendly chills. The world of Dr. Critchlore’s is vividly laid out through captivating and creative world-building. From dastardly dungeons, spine-tingling laboratories, secret passageways, indoor oases, and more, Dr. Cricthlore’s is full of fantastical things, surprises around every corner, and endless amusements.

And the world is inhabited by a plethora of beings and creatures- werewolves, ogres, nymphs, manticores, zombies, gargoyles, imps, sirens, merpeople, and more! From the zany to the deliciously frightening to the downright bizarre, Dr. Critchlore’s is home to it all. Young werewolf, Runt Higgins, is an endearing, likable character, as are his eclectic group of friends. And I love how over-the-top fun and oddball-ish the school’s teachers and staff are.

Runt’s journey to save his beloved school and home is full of exciting action, intriguing mysteries, laugh-out-loud humor, and clever twists! And Joe Sutphin’s engaging illustrations awesomely  bring the story to life.

my final thoughts: Full of pitch-perfect storytelling, fantastical world-building, and a super fun premise, Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions is bound to charm and delight middle-grade readers with his kookiness!

What three words best describe Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions?
Mystery! Monsters! And Mayhem!

Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, to give your book a try?
There’s this nice kid, in a school filled with monsters, and he’s really excited about the new year, but then someone starts sabotaging the school at the same time he finds out he’s got to compete against all his amazing classmates for a spot in the junior henchman class.

Grab a copy of Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions and answer the following:
favorite page?
The one that has my name on it. I Hey! That’s me! I wrote this!

favorite illustration?
This is hard, because they are all so good, but I’ll go with the map of the school.

favorite place/setting?
The dungeon. It’s huge, you need a DPS (Dungeon Positioning System) to find your way around, and a lot of fun/frightening things happen down there.

flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser:
p 148 – “Because of the lockdown, the investigation, and having to go to the infirmary for a tetanus shot, I was late for my next class, which meant I got my third tardy, which meant I got detention for the second day in a row.” – Can’t you just tell this poor kid is having a rough time?

What inspired Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions? How did the story come to be?
Oooh, lots of things inspired this story. Now, I know that many people, when they hear the word minion, they think of those little yellow pill-shaped dudes. But the truth is, minions have been around for a long, long time. In the Wizard of Oz, written over a century ago, the Wicked Witch had loads of minions. I get a little irked when people assume I “stole” the whole “minion” thing from Despicable Me when the truth is, I stole the idea from something much, much older.

Many years ago, when my four kids were in the Wizard of Oz play, I painted enchanted trees and wondered about things like: Where did the Wicked Witch get her minions, and who trained them?

Can you tell us a bit about your hero, Runt? What makes him special and sets him apart from other middle-grades heroes?
In a world of monsters and evil overlords, Runt is just a really good kid. He’s the kind of kid that makes you wince, because you just know the other kids will eat him up. He’s na├»ve and super gullible, but so likable that, he’ll find, his friend’s have his back.

If you attended Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions, what would be your favorite class and extracurricular activity?
Professor Zaida’s Literature class would be my favorite, I think. Or any class where you use Professor Dunkirk’s off-road vehicles. My favorite extracurricular activity would be water dragon polo.

As a middle-grade author, why do think MG is so important and popular? What do you love about MG?
MG exists in a realm where anything is possible. It’s the age where kids can imagine anything. And the more things they can imagine, the more things they can do. If I can spark some imaginings with my writing, well, I think that would be so cool.

What are some of your favorite middle-grade reads?
This may take a while. I really, really love MG. I love everything Francis Hardinge has ever written. Same with Laura Amy Schlitz, Megan Whalen Turner, Louis Sachar, Nancy Farmer, Kathi Appelt, Sheila Turnage, Eva Ibbotson, Roald Dahl. There are many more, but those come first to mind.

Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at Ummm . . . Nothing I do inspires awe in the universe, sadly.
I’m really embarrassed to admit I can’t think of anything I’m really awesome at.
The last great book I read was More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

If you were to bake a cupcake inspired by Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions, what would it look and taste like and what would you call it?
It would have to be some sort of trick cupcake. You send it to your enemy as a peace offering, and sure, it looks delicious, with tons of frosting and those cute little fondant decorations. Maybe there’s a cheerful quote on top - “You’re #1!” or “Best Friend Cupcake!” But at just the right moment, the cupcake explodes, sending frosting over everyone in a five foot radius and REVENGE IS YOURS! Bwa-ha-ha.

Sheila Grau grew up in an old house that had a secret closet nestled behind the bookshelves in the library. She was able to tuck herself into that little nook to ponder life's mysteries, like how her mother knew she was dropping her vegetables to the dog at dinnertime. (Answer: The dog didn't like vegetables, wither, and spit them out on the floor.) Through the years, one mystery in particular seemed to have no answer: Where do evil overlords get their minions? 

Unable to find an answer, she thought it would be fun to make one up. Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions is her first book.

Sheila currently lives in Northern California with her husband and four children and, sadly, no  minions.

Win 1 of 10 copies (ARCs) of 
Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions!
Abrams has generously offered 10 galleys for 10 winners.
-US only
-ends 3/31
-each winner will get one copy
(please read the FULL rules below the Rafflecopter form)

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Brenda said...

This book sounds very amusing, got to love minions. I love that it was inspired by The Wizard of Oz too. Awesome interview!

Molly Mortensen said...

This sounds like such a fun book! I love the idea of a school for minions! Runt sounds like a good main character.

Manju Howard said...

Great pitch! I really like the emotional connection you created between Runt and readers. Plus DPS (Dungeon Positioning System) - lots of fun.

anne s. said...

Sounds like an awesome book to put in the hands of my minion loving middle schooler!

Jillyn said...

Werewolves and evil minions? Sign me up!

Bluerose said...

This looks like a fun book! :)

Sui Generis said...

I totally love the cover! And then, School for Minions?! Wow! Can I enroll there? this is awesome!