It’s great to be able to report another new series from an independent publisher which is really, seriously, good, and great fun! Charles Gilman’s first two short novels about Lovecraft Middle School, a brand-new school built on the site of a creepy old mansion in Dunwich New England, will tempt fans of Potteresque supernatural school-based fiction and Lemony Snickett’s Unfortunate Events alike, and their hard-back format, easily-accessible prose, plentiful illustrations and astonishing morphing covers add immeasurably to their appeal.
Seventh-grader Robert Arthur has been assigned to Lovecraft Middle, and arrives to find that the boy who bullied him at his previous school is the only person he knows there. Robert discovers the terrible secret behind the façade of the new school, and the first two books in the series Professor Gargoyle and The Slither Sisters, begin to reveal the horrors that lie in store for the world. It’s not all horror though, and Gilman underlies his story with some serious stuff around bullying, friendship, disability and loyalty.
UK readers will probably not be familiar with Howard Philip (H P) Lovecraft, an American writer largely ignored in his lifetime, whose weird, sci-fi horror short stories are embedded in a tradition from the Gothic to Edgar Allan Poe, and which became a cult after Lovecraft’s own short early-twentieth-century life. While you can read Gilman’s Tales from Lovecraft Middle series (Quirk Books) without any knowledge of the works of Lovecraft (the author), recognising the allusions adds a lot to your reading of the adventures of Robert and his friends. Many of the places in Gilman’s books appeared originally in H P Lovecraft’s work, as did many of the monsters, and the curious cthulhu creatures who are introduced to us in the second book. A number of horror films have been based on H P Lovecraft’s work, and we might well see further re-imaginings appear if Tales from Lovecraft Middle School makes it to the silver screen.
In the meantime, be sure to read the books, and pray it’s a lengthy series!
Plenty more about Lovecraft Middle School at:
Keen students (and adults) may like to investigate H P Lovecraft’s work at:
There’s something of Dick Bruna meets Mr Benn meets The Boy from Space (remember him?) about This is Dobbo (Alien Boy World). Tim Pitt has created a tiny alien philosopher, and placed him up among the clouds, where he ponders on his life in a totally random manner, as ‘he dreams his thoughts and thinks his dreams’. There’s no story, merely loosely rhymed statements placed on the bright, clear, attractive illustrations. The publicity material indicates more to come…
‘Whimsically illustrated’ by Melinda Beavers says the publicity, and curiously contorted into poetry, The Zoo’s Annual Piggyback Race (Hedgebury), written by Matt Harrigan, is a sort of re-telling of the old fable of the tortoise and the hare, but set in a zoo, where pairs of animals all try to win the race but never quite make it. Somehow it all manages to look a bit freaky, as the piggybacked animals look like two-headed creatures, but it’s somehow also in the tradition of the caucus race in Alice in Wonderland.