Saturday, May 5, 2012

Scary School: Monsters on the March by Derek the Ghost (and a giveaway!)

Scary School #1 won the award for the funniest chapter book of 2011 from Children's Literature Network

As winners of last year's Ghoul Games, the students of Scary School are off to Monster Forest. School may be scary, but the forest has a few frights of its own, including:
Bearodactyls—so terrifying we can't even show you pictures of them
Princess Zogette, the Monster King's toad-faced daughter, who falls for Charles Nukid . . . hard
Captain Pigbeard, fearsome leader of the Monster-Pirates and Princess Zogette's fiancÉ (well, former fiancÉ, thanks to Charles)
And when Zogette follows Charles to Scary School, the Monster King and Captain Pigbeard raise their armies and chase after her. But the monsters have no idea who—or what—they're dealing with.
In this clever, funny sequel to the frighteningly hilarious Scary School, Charles, Penny Possum, Dr. Dragonbreath, and all the students and teachers prove that scary monsters are no match for Scary School!

Publisher: HarperCollins
Number of Pages: 256
Type: Hardcover

Reviewed by Lily, age 10
Already a big fan of the first book in this series, Scary School: Monsters on the March definitely impressed me! It was very funny, the scary kind of funny.  How often can one read a book written by a ghost who haunts the classrooms of Scary School?  The story is clever and exciting--the author does a great of job of captivating the reader from cover to cover. I like the main characters and love the fact that there are lots of dragons in the story. I highly recommend this book and encourage the reader to read the first book before this one.  Recommended for boys and girls ages 8 to 12.

This book is in stores June of 2012! 
Visit Scary School's cool new site, here!

Interview with Derek the Ghost! 

How do you come up with all of the great ideas for the stories/plots for Scary School?
I love writing short stories, and Scary School is written in a short story format with a larger story wrapped around it as a through-line. Great short stories usually have the same structure. You introduce a character and then give him/her a problem or challenge that they need to overcome. Then you try to think of a funny or creative way for the to deal with or solve the problem, and then it's always great to have a fun twist ending. Once you create an interesting character and think of the problem he/she has to deal with, the story will usually write itself. For instance, the purple girl Petunia has a problem that everyone thinks she's strange because she completely purple, plus she has bees flying around her all the time, so it's really hard to make friends. But when she ends up in Scary Forest and gets her wish of having lots of friends, she finds out that maybe that's not such a good thing after all! 
Where do all of the ideas for the awesome characters come from? You always create so many fascinating background stories for each character.

A lot of the characters were based on classic horror characters, either from movies or from books. I asked myself what it would be like if all those characters happened to go to school together back when they were kids, so I got a lot of fun ideas from those. For instance there's a young Jason from Friday the 13th with his hockey mask and chainsaw. Plus there's a young Freddy Krueger from Nightmare on Elm St.  Mrs. T. is the T-rex from Jurassic Park, etc. Of course a lot of the characters are my own creation too like Petunia and Penny Possum and Charles Nukid.  Some of them I base on kids I knew from school. Some of them I base on myself.

Do you write the "hidden chapters" on your website when you write the overall book or do you write them after the book is done?
I write those chapters as I'm writing the book. Sometimes they are in the middle of the book but get cut out during the process of revisions, but I don't want to lose them forever, so creating the hidden chapters still gives them life.

By the way, if you go the website - - there's a pretty cool book trailer there you can view, plus you can tour the school and meet the students and faculty. You can also play some fun games on the website and if you win, you'll get the weirdest trophy you've ever seen! There's lots more to explore there as well (including the secret last chapter of book 1 you can only unlock after finishing Book 1) so I urge you all to have fun and explore it. 
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?  Were you good at writing in school?

I remember being the "writer kid" in my class ever since I was 7 years old. During free reading time, I used to sit at my desk and read the dictionary cause I loved learning strange new words. When we wrote stories, mine mine were always the longest and most imaginative, so I guess I was always good at writing. I definitely enjoyed it more than any of the other subjects in school. 

Are you as crazy as all of your stories? ;)

What was your favorite book as a kid?
I loved Sideways Stories from Wayside School. That was the first book series I read where I realized how silly and funny books could be. I based Scary School on that series in terms of format, where the main character is really the school and then we hear lots of fun wacky stories that take place there. 

What is your favorite candy and why?
Kit Kat bars. I love them because they are amazingly delicious just eating them in one chomp. But if you do that it's over too fast. So you can savor it longer by carefully biting off the chocolate until only the wafter is left and then eat the wafter all by itself and it's still amazing.

What makes you scared?
I'm quite afraid of heights. So going up on a rollercoaster is really scary to me, but then once the rollercoaster starts going I'm fine.
Do you have a special place where you like to write?

I do most of my writing in my bedroom, but sometimes I like to go to the local bookstore and write in their coffee shop.
I'm a big fan of Scary School--thanks for answering my questions!

Thank you! Great questions!  Reminder to all my other fans out there that Scary School #2: Monsters on the March comes out June 26, 2012 online and in bookstores everywhere. After winning the Ghoul Games, Scary School gets to claim their prize of going on a field trip to meet the Monster King in Monster Kingdom. However, things do not go as planned and the students have to get very lucky to make it out of there alive. All of your favorite characters will be back for new adventures, and there will of course be lots of strange and spooky new characters and teachers.  After that, Book 3 will be out June 2013 and things get CRAZY!!

Win Scary School: Monsters of March EARLY for you and a friend!
-includes two advance copies
-must live in the United States or Canada to enters
-contest ends May 25th

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Happy reading!
Lily, age 10

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Thank you for visiting our blog and reading this review. We hope you stop by the store and check out the book!

~Youth Board