WORST School Ever or BEST School Ever: Cassie-la Educates You On “Professor Gargoyle” by Charles Gilman

Tales from Lovecraft Middle School #1: Professor Gargoyle by Charles Gilman (Advanced Reader Copy)
Release Date: September 25, 2012
Genre: Fiction, childrens, horror, modernized Goosebumps
Rating: 3.7 out of 5 stars

Summary: When the school districts are rezoned in Dunwich, Massachusetts, Robert Arthur is sent to Lovecraft Middle School, the brand new state of the art facility that may or may not be filled with monsters. From befriending two headed rats to a teacher who wants to eat him and missing peers, the day in the life of a Lovecraft student isn’t an easy one. Especially when the faculty seems so intent on worshiping the Great Old Ones. ALL HAIL CTHULHU!

Lovecraft Middle School is Quirk Books first foray into middle grade school literature and from the awesome lenticular cover to Eugene Smith’s gorgeous illustrations, the publisher gives us an uber rad/modern version of Goosebumps. Nostalgia high! It’s not quite on par with their young adult series Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children but it’s fun for what it is. A good read for a younger audience. That being said, it might be too simple and quick for older readers. But they will appreciate the touches of Lovecraft more.

Fans won’t have to wait long for the sequel, because Tales from Lovecraft Middle School #2: The Slither Sisters comes out in January! That title is far too close to Scissor Sisters for my adult brain. I really must stop putting my adult mindset onto children’s books. But it won’t stop me from exploring tentacle use and latent homosexual feelings later on in this post. You’ve been pre-warned.

Robert Arthur, a boy cursed with having a super lame name, becomes the new kid at school after he and lifelong bully Glenn Torkells (okay, that might be a worse name) are sent to the new Lovecraft Middle School. Which shouldn’t be so bad considering it boasts a swimming pool, digital chalkboards (WHAT DOES THAT MEAN!?!), computerized lockers and is made mostly of recycled (possibly haunted) materials. Bonus: it has the coolest name for a school in the history of ever- right behind the non-fictional Transylvania University. Although it’s the worst name ever if you want to hide your nefarious plans there.

Warning, if you go to your school’s ribbon cutting and they 1. cut a green ribbon, 2. an ominous thunderclap sounds or 3. there is a flood of rats that attack students, you should probably have reservations about where your parents tax dollars are going. Other warning signs include stumbling upon attics that aren’t in blueprints, people speaking gibberish, and your worst enemy ending up in a tentacle rape related situation. Maybe I’m reading into this too much?

Things are especially bad for poor Robert, who has awful shoes with no laces- KICKS! according to the illustrations- and his only friends are a mysterious sassy girl named Karina Ortiz and a two headed rat who he names Pip and Squeak. WORST NAMES EVER! Sadly, his new science teacher Professor Garfield Goyle (so many unfortunate names in this book) seems intent on capturing his only two-headed friends. Note to parents everywhere: if your last name is Goyle, do not name your poor son Garfield! In fact, just never name any of your children Garfield. Or Randy Giles.

Finally, there’s Robert’s perpetual bully Glenn- he of the worst name- who is too busy imposing nerd taxes on his peer to try to come up with a more creative nickname than Nerdbert. It’s probably his latent homosexual tendencies for Robert peeking through that cause all this bullying. Or the fact that he’s rebelling against his last name being Torkells. In all seriousness though, I think I’m on the right track with this homosexual tendencies thing. Particularly because Robert helps him escape from a seemingly unwanted tentacle attack, hinting that Glenn’s repressing his love of all things phallic. Trust me, later he wishes he had let the tentacles take him. I AM ON THE RIGHT TRACK HERE.

Throughout the novel, there is the pervading sense that literature is incredibly important. BECAUSE IT IS! Putting aside the fact that it’s a novel for children about a school inspired by horror author H.P. Lovecraft and there are enough Cthulhu references to shake a stick at, the main character and one of the only redeemable teachers loves the written word. Robert uses his imagination to escape his hum-drum life because who doesn’t want super powers and magical abilities- only to find himself in a fictional situation. And his English teacher, the pastel sweater-vest wearing Mr. Loomis instills in his students a love of literature. The enormous state of the art library does help with the feelings of book love. Although not the evilly mysterious portal in the attic.

I really hope future books focus more on the Lovecraft elements of the novel. It’s easy to see how the basic plot revolves around ideas of Cthulhu and the Elder Gods but it would be great to see more fun little references. Besides use of  R’lyehian and an overabundance of tentacles of course. The kids reading the series might not completely understand what’s going on, but maybe it will lead them into exploring the works of Mr. H.P. himself. Which will probably lead to nightmares. And bed wetting? Perfect!

THE GOOD:
-Modern day version of my favorite children’s horror series: Goosebumps
-Can feel the literary love coursing through the book
-Love the touches of Lovecraft (would love more references in that department)
-Hard to go wrong with horror for children, or instilling horror in children

THE BAD:
-Written for middle grade audience, straightforward writing style
-Not as enjoyable for older readers (but great for their siblings or children!)

Professor Gargoyle: Book Trailer

Quirk Books, where do you get your tentacle budget!?! No, seriously, how do you guys make the best book trailers that I’ve ever seen? There really is no topping a QB (not quarterback, jerk faces) trailer. If you don’t believe me, just re-watch Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters for nostalgia purposes.

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