The Scare School

Kaboom!. (Just Beyond). Sept. 2019. 144p. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781684154166.
Gr 4-6–Twins Jess and Josh and their neighbor Marco discover a terrifying, unconscious creature shut away in an empty classroom. It awakens and chases them into a terrifying alternate reality school where middle schoolers are treated like very young children. The protagonists must work together to evade the principal and find a way home. This thrilling, compelling book is Stine’s first original graphic novel and the first in a new series. Much like the author’s “Goosebumps” books, each “Just Beyond” installment will follow a different set of characters. The bold palette combined with a minimalist drawing style will attract a wide range of readers. There are plenty of action sequences featuring scary monsters from the alter school and the principal, who resembles the trio’s own principal. Unfortunately, plot holes may drive away stronger readers wishing for more exposition. It’s unclear why the students in the alternate world are forced to act like little kids, studying coloring and building blocks. It is also never explained how in the opening sequence the three alternate children are able to escape into the real universe.
VERDICT Strong on action and weak on details. Give to those who love “Goosebumps” or fans of Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s “Lunch Lady” series who are looking for something more intense

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