Title: Graveyard School #26 – Little School of Horrors
Author: Tom B. Stone/Nola Thacker/D.E. Athkins
Cover Artist: Mark Nagata
Summary: It’s The Most Horrifying Time Of Year In Grove Hill – Back-To-School Time!
Back to school.
Ghouls rule. Teachers drool.
Dead things walking are nothing shocking.
Blue is new at Graveyard School. But he knows right away that he’s going to class at Creep Central. Just look at the teachers. The principal. Even the janitor. But worst of all, look at the kid who wants to be Blue’s best friend. With friends like these, who needs enemies?
Welcome to Dead Kid 101.
[Wing: This summary made me laugh. I’m delighted.]
Looking at the cover Wing you can guess why I picked this for your b-day month, and lucky for you this is also one of my favorite books in the series.
What’s weird about it is this book has got some world building shit going on, and the way it reads you’d THINK it would’ve been the first in the series. It gives a much better sense of how big the sixth grade class is, even for a small town, which puts it at odds with the Fear Street Seniors series for how it only focused on a handful of the 12th grade class and then made sporadic, frustrating references to all the OTHER kids in the graduating class.
But this is frustrating for me because this was the third to last in the line, and none of the other kids introduced in this book appeared in “Here Comes Santa Claws” or “The Spider Beside Her.” I can’t help but wonder what Thacker might’ve had planned for this series if #28 wasn’t the last. God knows I still have some notes from way back in high school on ideas I had for stories with these guys.
And we also get a look at racism through the eyes of a kids horror book!
[Wing: I do love the surprise on that cover, thank you! It’s strange that this isn’t the first book in the series, or that the world building here wasn’t included in the first book, at least. Though, I did like the pacing on the first book, and this information might have slowed it down.
No matter what, I’m super excited about this!]
Blue Russell can’t believe his mom actually thinks he’s going to have FUN on his first day as the new kid in a brand new school smack dab in the middle of the school year. Don’t moms know anything? He’s at least somewhat comforted when the first and second graders move out of his way as he ascends the foreboding front steps. Reaching the top of the stairs and what looks like the sixth graders huddled together and casting worried glances in the direction of the entrance, Blue tentatively smiles at one girl who looks directly at him. Unfortunately, Blue has no clue the girl he’s smiling at is none other than puke perfect Polly Hannah. Polly thinks Blue is actually laughing at her and is all
Park Addams points out the kid is new. Give him time and he’ll definitely find a reason to laugh at Polly. Blue feels a little sorry for Polly; judging from how rigidly and meticulously she’s dressed, she obviously cares what others think of her. Polly snarks Park is the expert on being laughed at, which Park responds to by staggering around and dramatically clutching his chest. [Wing: Because Park is a ridiculous delight.]
Another girl in an enormous rugby shirt over what looked like a tie-dyed thermal undershirt turned, pushed back dark, spiky bangs, and said, “I’m Maria. Maria Medina. That’s Park Addams, and the girl dressed like a stick of butter is Polly Hannah.”
Park staggered up to Blue and Maria, still clutching his chest. “Perfect Polly Hannah,” he said.
“A stick of butter?” Polly’s voice went up an octave in outrage. Park removed his hand from his chest and clapped both hands over his ears.
“But a perfect stick of butter,” Maria said with false sweetness.
“If you’re a stick of butter, Polly,” someone asked, “why don’t you just melt away?”
Polly blames Blue for her mockery and swears revenge when she marches into the school. The other kids are forced to give credit where it’s due, saying as much of a complete worm Polly is, she’s still brave enough to go into the school before the bell rings. Blue doesn’t understand why this makes Polly brave, but is distracted when the other kids ask his name. Blue is ready for the teasing to begin, something he’s used to for having such a weird name, but Park and the others are chillax. And Blue, your name’s not THAT weird. I have a book on haunted houses in Nantucket written by Blue Balliett.
And then Blue meets Vice Principal Hannibal Lucre, and he’s at a loss for words. As the kids are herded through the front doors, Park bids Blue the official Graveyard School welcome.
Blue is sure Park must’ve said something else as he tries to figure out where the principal’s office is so he can get his schedule. Blue grabs a younger kid and asks for directions, but the color seems to drain from the boy’s face when Blue asks about the principal. The kid screams Blue can’t make him go near the principal’s office so Blue responds he’d at least like to know WHERE it is. The kid hastily gives Blue the directions, then bolts like someone just set him on fire.
Blue finds himself at the front door of Dr. Morthouse’s office, and the first person he meets is the perpetually indignant secretary, Mr. Kinderbane.
He was a sour-looking man, as if he could smell things other people couldn’t – disgusting things.
Mr. Kinderbane’s eyes snapped together. “Well?” he said. “I haven’t got all day. I’ve got a school to run.”
“You’ve got a school to run? Interesting,” said a voice colder than ice at the bottom of a new grave.
Mr. Kinderbane shot up from his desk. A thin smile sliced his thin face from ear to ear as he pivoted toward the door that had suddenly opened on the far side of the room.
On the door in big black letters were the words DR. MORTHOUSE, PRINCIPAL. The woman who stood there was neither fat nor thin, short nor tall. And yet she managed to take up not only all the space in the doorway, but most of the space in the room.
Blue felt as if he couldn’t breathe.
“In a manner of speaking, Dr. Morthouse,” Mr. Kinderbane said. His whole appearance had become ingratiating. If he had been a dog, he would have wagged his tail and rolled over on his back, thought Blue.
Then Dr. Morthouse smiled. Blue saw a blinding flash of silver. “But of course you do run this school, in a manner of speaking, Mr. Kinderbane. What would we do without you?”
The words hung threateningly in the air.
Blue finally catches Dr. Morthouse’s attention, and she ushers him inside her office. She gives him the usual Graveyard School drill, asking if this is his first time in the principal’s office, making her observation of him being “a good student” sound like a threat, and then commenting on his first name before snapping the blinds open and revealing the graveyard behind the school. Blue is rather shocked as Dr. Morthouse describes the view from her office as “inspirational” before jotting down the info on Blue’s homeroom, class schedule, locker assignment, and a hall pass. With these in hand, Blue bolts from the office before she can finish welcoming him to school.
He’s not sure if she was going to say “Grove Hill School” or “Graveyard School.”
Running down the hall, Blue bumps into none other than the infamous school custodian Basement Bart. Bart assumes Blue is cutting class before Blue stammers his new and trying to find his homeroom. Bart points him in the direction to go, but when Blue turns around to thank him, Bart’s gone. Blue thinks he might’ve imagined Bart when he finally gets to his class, opens the door, and screams at what’s inside.
Blue hastily slams the door and backs away, thinking of what he just saw. It was a horror movie, a Halloween parade, things with too many eyes and slime oozing from their sleeves, the worst the “dark side of Star Trek” had to offer. Blue tries to run when a hand grabs his shoulder and is all
He looks up to see a seemingly human teacher having emerged from the classroom. Blue can tell from the look in her hauntingly silver eyes she’s not interested to learn WHY he screamed, so Blue introduces himself. The teacher reveals she’s Storch. Mrs. Storch. [Wing: And he was worried about “Blue” being a strange name around here.] And she tells him screaming is NOT allowed in her classroom; it’s even an official rule, “no screaming in class.” Mrs. Storch pulls Blue into the class, his eyes tightly shut. He can hear Mrs. Storch introduce him to the other students, but Blue is too frightened by what’s in front of him. That is, until Mrs. Storch orders him to open his eyes.
So Blue does and… nothing. He sees the usual assortment of kids you’d expect to find in a classroom, nothing oozing or bleeding or dead or anything like that. Well, except for one small kid who seems REALLY twitchy about something. Mrs. Storch directs Blue to a seat in the back of the room by the window, and tells him to get a move on from having held up the lesson as is. Blue tries to be as cool as the other side of the pillow while heading to his seat, but is left a bit overwhelmed by just how… THERE the graveyard is, wondering if other classrooms have such a view. [Wing: I am delighted by this, the classroom looking out over the graveyard, the weird things Blue sees. It’s all great.] The way the graves march down the hill, it’s like they could overtake the school in seconds. Mrs. Storch tells the students to take out their math books, but Blue’s in for a surprise when he begins reading one of the problems.
If one gravedigger digs up thirty-seven bones and another gravedigger digs up ninety-three bones but breaks one into two pieces with his shovel and one into six pieces and the other gravedigger loses four bones…
[Wing: I’m confused, too, but that’s because I want to know why my math books never had that kind of description in the word problems.]
Confused as to what kind of math book this is, Blue doesn’t immediately hear the twitchy kid trying to get his attention. The kid is whispering for Blue to look out behind him when someone or something grabs Blue by his throat and yanks him out of his chair. Before he knows it, Mrs. Storch is towering over Blue, coldly and calmly demanding to know what the problem is. Several kids can be heard snickering as Blue exclaims someone grabbed him from behind and tried to strangle him. Looking up, Blue can see his seat is positioned behind a huge plant overflowing from a pot. The leaves seem particularly swollen and fleshy. Surprisingly, even more terrifyingly, instead of killing Blue right there, Mrs. Storch… smiles and says these things happen! She then orders the twitchy kid, Tim, to help Blue straighten out his desk and pick up his books while she fusses with the plant. Blue can hear her muttering something as she waters the plant, assuming Mrs. Storch’s the type who talks to plants to help them grow. Storch pulls Blue’s desk away from the plant before returning to the front of the room and asking if anyone’s solved the gravedigger problem yet.
Come lunchtime, Blue learns the cafeteria also has a direct view of the graveyard. Assessing the array of flushable food straight from Slop 101, Blue loses his appetite while meeting Jaws Bennett for the first time, and learning how Jaws’ll eat anything, even roadkill. Blue sits down with Jaws, Park, and Algernon “Algie” Green, the previous new kid. Can I just say how fucking ingenious it is that first there was Algrenon GREEN and then BLUE Russell? Blue tells the guys he’s got Storch for homeroom, [Wing: … except that was definitely math class?] and the guys confirm if there was ever a teacher from the dark side, it’s her. However, Park and Algie realize they don’t really know anyone else from Storch’s class, nor are they sure who IS in her class. Blue mentions they have recess last, which bummed him out hoping he could’ve seen Park or Maria on the playground. Blue tells the guys Tim’s in his class, but he’s supposedly new as well. Tim’s sitting in the back and is twitchy as ever, but Blue can’t find anyone else. Park and Algie exchange concerned looks, and Jaws jokes that maybe Storch’s class disappeared. Yet Algie and Park take him seriously, commenting the odd student and teacher has disappeared, but never an entire class. [Wing: One or two at a time, that’s cool, but an entire class? SHENANIGANS.] Blue assumes they’re screwing with the new kid, even as Jaws reminisces on how HE disappeared once. The conversation turns towards the lunch, which seems to be some kind of gross vegetable health dish, like the health food Jaws’ parents make him eat at home. Park and Algie decide if it’s not trying to bite them, it’s food, but it still looks too gross so they won’t eat it. Blue is reminded too much of the plant from homeroom, and reviews how much today has sucked when it’s not even half over. He’ll start bringing lunch from home. If he ever sees home again.
The last class of the day is science with Mrs. Dedd, where a tall, almost translucent kid named Rex has delivered a report on decomposition. Mrs. Dedd beams with approval as she talks about how everything is rotting. Tim whispers to Blue about how gross the food in Rex’s presentation was, while Blue is only reminded of lunch. This is not helped by the numerous terrariums filled with unspeakably rotten and horrifying things in the classroom. Up next is Melissa, a robust gal with long, dark red hair done in multiple braids down to her back. Melissa has with her a working model of the human heart, so bloody and realistic Blue swears he saw it beating. No one else notices, or if they had they didn’t care, but that’s it for Blue and he asks to use the bathroom. Mrs. Dedd scowls since it’s the end of the day, her small, black eyes boring into Blue as she asks if he REALLY needs to go. Blue confirms it even when the other kids snicker. The moment he’s in the hall Blue runs for the bathroom, worried he’s about to toss his cookies thinking of the heart and the food at lunch. Blue realizes Park really did say Graveyard School, but receives some salvation when the final bell rings. Satisfied he made it to the end of the day, his relief vanishes when he hears a couple of people coming in… and it dawns on him he blindly ran into THE GIRLS’ ROOM.
Personally I blame Ashley Katchadourian. She WAS
TO BE WATCHING.
THE FUCKING DOOR.
Hiding in the stall, Blue recognizes one of the voices as Melissa, and some other girl from Mrs. Dedd’s class. Blue freezes when he thinks the girls have heard him, but then Melissa sniffs the air and mutters “human” before leaving. Returning to Mrs. Dedd’s classroom to collect his stuff, Blue is warned he better not expect to make a habit of skipping class like that. Blue babbles he was just nervous because it was his first day at Grave-I mean Grove Hill School. Surprisingly, Mrs. Dedd lets this slide, saying it does take some time to get adjusted to change. Out in the hallway, Blue is startled but relieved to run into only Tim, glad he’s not Dr. Morthouse or their two teachers. Tim says they have to talk. Outside the school, Tim inquires if Blue specifically asked to be enrolled in Mrs. Storch’s homeroom, or if he’s heard anything about her or the other kids. Blue only responds he’s heard Storch is a bit… intense. Tim grills Blue about why he screamed when he opened the door and how he fell out of the chair, mentioning something’s definitely off about their teacher and classmates. Blue tries to wave these off with rational answers, until Tim says the graveyard’s not the only reason kids call this “Graveyard School.” Unfortunately, Tim’s mom shows up before he can explain any further.
At home with his parents and baby sister Pamela, Blue tells his parents about the graveyard behind the school and asks if that’s not something to worry about. He follows up by asking if either of his parents met Dr. Morthouse.
Mr. Russell chuckled. “A little formal, I thought, in that suit. Although come to think of it, if she was a man she’d be expected to wear at least a tie to school if she was the principal, so…”
It was then Blue realized he was on his own.
Blue finishes his math homework musing on how… different these problems are. They’re certainly more interesting, involving snakes, spiders, bats, even one about a Headless Horseman and a pumpkin patch. [Wing: I REMAIN JEALOUS OF THESE WORD PROBLEMS.] Blue goes to sleep thinking he’ll stop letting his imagination get the best of him and he’ll stop feeling so freaked once he stops being the new kid… and then wakes up sometime later hearing someone call his name. Blue hears someone asking him to come out and play. The light from the moon seems to cast a strange blue glow over his hands and feet as Blue moves closer to the window to see who’s calling for him. What he sees outside wakes him right up.
Something pale and shimmering hovered near the hedge that lined one side of the front lawn. A chill ran up Blue’s spine.
Another shape joined the first. This one was neatly attired in black clothes, with a long black cape lined in red. It had chalk white skin, and Blue thought he could see the glittering points of white fangs when it smiled up at the window.
Drawing in a sharp breath, he stepped back.
A third shape appeared, a creature that looked familiar from books of Greek myths that Blue had seen. It was half horse and half human.
Frustratingly the book never uses the word “Centaur,” but I will.
The ghastly forms on Blue’s lawn chant for him to come outside and play. Blue desperately hopes this is a just a nightmare.
But when he opened his eyes, a vampire no bigger than he was hovered outside his window. The vampire had a familiar face. He waved and smiled cheerfully. “C’mon,” he said. “It’s fun.”
Blue shuts the curtains and backs up against the far wall of his bedroom. The voices become silent, leaving Blue to ask why this is happening to him? This stuff doesn’t happen to kids like him. Cautiously, Blue checks the window and spies the group of monsters has become larger, and they’re… playing soccer on his front lawn. The vampire notices Blue’s at the window and cheerfully teases that Blue can run, but he can’t hide. A dark cloud passes over the moon, and when it departs, so has the Halloween legion. (Side note, that’s the name of a real comic).
Because of all these experiences, Blue spent the rest of his first week doing everything he could to make himself as scarce as possible. He did all his homework and classwork as perfectly as possible to keep a low profile with Mrs. Storch and Mrs. Dedd. He avoided everyone, not just Tim and his classmates, but Park and the other “normal” kids as well. Life like this was difficult.
Blue felt like a misfit, an outcast, a freak. He thought of the other loners in classes at his former school. Had they felt like this? Was this what it felt like to have everyone think there was something wrong with you when you knew there wasn’t?
He vowed then and there that he would never make fun of or laugh at anyone who was different ever again. Not even Twitchy Tim.
Regardless, Blue finds himself becoming accustomed to some of his non-Tim classmates. The list includes:
- Phillip, a clumsy big kid who happens to the faster runner in class.
- Eduardo, a short, nimble kid who’s a good soccer player and an avid reader.
- Cyril, a snarky intellectual and wearer of thick glasses, known to make even Mrs. Storch smirk with his dry one-liners.
- Melissa the red-haired, who takes care of the snake in Mrs. Storch’s room.
- Ginger, a quick-tempered gal with dreams of being a master chef. She even delivered a report on the history of barbecue. So, yeah she’s my fave.
Blue was starting to think his classmates were okay. No one gave him shit because of the incidents on the first day, the screaming or the plant attack. Actually, he was beginning to think everything that happened, seeing the monsters in class, and the nighttime visitation, were just the stress of being the new kid getting to his imagination. Blue seemed to be adjusting to the change better than Tim, who was getting more twitchy by the day.
I just had a bad day and I let it creep me out, he thought. So my first day at a new school wasn’t perfect – who has good first days? So the principal’s a little twisted – what principal isn’t? So my teachers are not your average teachers – who wants average teachers anyway? So the science projects are kind of warped – at least they’re interesting.
On Friday, Blue’s mom took him and Pamela to the mall after school. While there, Blue wanders by himself for a bit and ends up at the food court. Near a display of plants unnervingly similar to the one in Mrs. Storch’s class, Blue overhears none other than Ginger and Melissa complaining about an order of undercooked french fries. It’s cool though, because Ginger knows how to fix them. Blue spies from a distance as Ginger stabs a wad of fries with a plastic fork before she smiles, a smile so big and wide it’s almost like her face is going to disappear… and then Blue watched as a stream of fire came out of Ginger’s mouth and roasted the fries. [Wing: Well that’s fucking useful. Teach me how to do that, Ginger.] Horrified, Blue backed up and crashed into the plant display, catching Ginger and Melissa’s attention.
“Hi,” said Melissa brightly. “Want a french fry?” She thrust the fork toward him.
“Y-you… the french fries… you…,” Blue stammered. He stepped back.
Ginger raised her eyebrows. “What can I say? I’m going to be a chef.” A spurt of flame licked out as she spoke.
Blue makes a break for it, causing Ginger and Melissa to chase after him in an effort to explain what happened. Blue gets away and tries to hide in the bathroom… but once again finds himself in THE GIRLS ROOM.
Seriously where the fuck is Ashley Katchadourian? [Wing: My question is, does this kid ever bother to read the signs?]
Blue tries to calm himself instead of freaking out at the idea he did it again by accident.
Big deal, Blue told himself. Try to think of it as a unisex bathroom. Every house has a unisex bathroom. After all, what family has a bathroom for the males and a bathroom for the females.
But Blue is worried about what time it is, and fears his mother might roast him alive for keeping her waiting. Well, if Ginger didn’t beat her to it. Blue almost escapes when he hears none other than Ginger and Melissa arriving, discussing how quickly Blue got away from them. Almost… inhumanely fast, it seems. Melissa’s more worried about how stubborn her hair is being.
“It’s driving me crazy,” she complained. “I can’t do a thing with it.”
“Got a life of its own?” Ginger asked, then chortled.
“Ha, ha,” said Melissa.
Blue shuddered. He choked back a scream.
Melissa stopped, turned. Her hands were still raised to the twisting, writhing mass on her head.
Snakes. It wasn’t hair, it was snakes.
[Wing: THIS IS THE BEST OH MY GOD.]
Blue screams at the sight of Melissa the gorgon (the book only calls her “the snake-haired”) and falls out of the stall. The two girls scream back saying boys aren’t allowed in here. Blue snarks at Ginger, calling her “dragonbreath” and attempts to flee, almost getting caught by a repulsed teenager and an offended older woman who try to grab Blue on his way out.
Blue manages to make it back to his mom and sister unscathed and non-toasted. At home while his family waits for the pizza delivery boy, Blue mulls over the idea that Ginger is some budding pyromaniac and what she’s used her barbecuing expertise on. Blue asks his parents if they’ve ever seen people breathing fire. They only recall the magicians and carnival performers who do such tricks, granting Blue the genuine possibility of a rational explanation. Blue answers the door when the pizza guy arrives, and notices the moon has already started to come out in the sky. The delivery guy notices and mentions a second moon, a blue moon, will be appearing in a couple of days. [Wing: And now you all know why this book was scheduled to come out on January 31, 2018. My beloved Wolf Moon had a second full moon just in time for my birthday.] Blue automatically, absentmindedly, mentions he was born during a blue moon. That’s where his name came from, but he never mentioned that tidbit to other kids anymore. He got sick of people asking if his middle name was “Moon.” Before the delivery guy leaves, he mentions Blue’s dog got out of the yard, impressively jumping at least six feet to get over the back fence, which would be cool… except Blue’s family don’t own a dog.
Blue stood in the doorway, thinking hard.
He was thinking so hard that he didn’t see the dog until it had padded out of the hedge’s shadow to stand in the middle of the lawn.
The dog raised its head, staring at Blue. Its eyes glowed deep and orange. Blue had never seen a dog with eyes that color, by day or by night.
It’s probably the moonlight that makes the dog look so big, Blue thought. But still, he didn’t like the way the dog stood there, head up, eyes glowing.
“Nice dog” he said, taking a step backward. “Stay. Stay there.”
The dog raised its head higher. Then it raised its whole body until it was standing upright like a human. It threw back its head and grinned wolfishly.
And yet, something about the face was almost human.
Blue gasped. That’s not a dog! He dropped the pizza. A werewolf, he thought wildly.
The werewolf threw back its head and howled at the moon as Blue slammed the door and frantically fumbled with the lock.
We all know who THAT was for. [Wing: ACTUAL FUCKING WEREWOLVES. AGAIN. This series brings me so much joy.]
Blue drops the pizza and runs back inside, locking the door shut and screaming for his parents. Surprise surprise, when they come into the hallway, the howling’s stopped. Cautiously opening the door, no one’s outside. His parents are more worried about the pizza as Blue realizes he truly wasn’t imagining things. He’s got a classmate who can breathe fire, another with snakes for hair, a plant tried to strangle him, and he’s being stalked by monsters.
He was a student at Graveyard school, in the class of horrors. He was enrolled in Dead Kid 101.
On Monday, Blue tries to get some answers from Tim. Tim’s dreading heading back to Mrs. Storch’s class, but Blue doesn’t add he’s gotten used to Storch and Dedd, since their classes, while creepy, have kept his attention in a way other teachers haven’t. Blue can’t help but wonder if what he experienced when he first opened the door to Mrs. Storch’s room was really a premonition of things to come, a subconscious warning from his brain. Blue discusses with Tim their previous conversation. Tim admits he thought Blue liked Storch and Dedd, being the perfect new kid and all. Blue admits he’s only been trying to keep out of trouble, not draw attention to himself, stopping to wonder is that all teachers look for in good students, ones who stay out of trouble? Blue decides only the shitty teachers would consider that the definition of a good student.
Blue stops beating around the bush and asks Tim what HE think of Graveyard School.
“Graveyard School is deeply weird. The people in charge make lunatics look sane. And, although I suspect most of the kids here are victims of circumstance, I believe that some of the kids are, if not in league with the adults, then of the same type, i.e., not human, or anything that could called a carbon-based life-form, particularly some or most of these in our class.” Tim stopped.
Blue’s mouth dropped open. This was timid Tim?
[Wing: Well damn, Tim, stop holding things back. Also, fuck out of here with that lunatics bit.]
Blue is about to ask more when Dr. Morthouse sweetly reminds them those late to class most suffer the consequences. Tim goes back to full twitchy mode, and the two can feel Dr. M watching them as they head into Mrs. Storch’s class, a.k.a. “the fire” of “out of the frying pan” fame.
[Blue’s] eyes met Ginger’s. She smiled. She didn’t bother trying to conceal the wisp of smoke that danced out of her mouth.
Oh my God she’s such a troll I love her. [Wing: The characters in this book are fucking amazing.]
At recess Tim warns Blue they can’t freely talk, standing at the edge of pickup soccer. Tim deliberately screws up kicking the ball so he won’t be picked again. Blue bitterly thinks to himself no one deserve to live in such a state, especially a kid, and joins in the game. Only, he begins to notice… things. Like how it looks as though Eduardo briefly hover as he kicks the ball. Like how a move Eduardo makes is disturbingly similar to a move he saw in another soccer game. Because you see, when Blue watches Eduardo make a goal, all HE sees is a small vampire. Eduardo doesn’t notice the terrified look on Blue’s face as he thanks him for the pass. Blue considers the possibility or running towards the playground fence and heading for home, when he sees Phillip intercept the ball with his “front” foot. Eduardo and Phillip have been unmasked as the vampire and centaur from the night game, and Blue can see all his other classmates shimmering back and forth between human and monster. Tim doesn’t seem to notice, and Blue identifies Ralph Kennell as the werewolf from Friday. The scariest thing is that it doesn’t surprise Blue who Ralph is.
Blue joins Park and the other “core” kids for the first time since the previous week at lunch, but Blue is wary. He doesn’t know what to expect from Park, Stacey, and the rest, wondering if they’re monsters too. If not, do they know about the monster kids? (Well we know Skip Wolfson is aware of a monster who lives pretty close to home. [Wing: WOLFSON HAHAHAHAHA. That never fails to delight me and make me laugh at the same time.]) Did Mrs. Storch? When Stacey jokes they should pretend to be invisible when Polly Hannah joins them, Blue sincerely expects the kids actually will disappear. After Polly sits down, Blue casually asks them why they call the place “Graveyard School.” It was like someone had fired a gun in the lunchroom.
Stacey looked at Park. Park looked at Maria. Even Polly made some eye contact with the kids with whom she was normally at war.
Maria spoke first. She leaned forward, her dark eyes somber. “Because,” she said, “things happen.”
“Like what kind of things?”
“Things you don’t want to know about?” Polly said, frowning at Blue harder than ever.
“Maybe I do.”
No one says anything else, Park deflecting the conversation to suggest the play baseball in the city park after school. Blue suggests they play on the school’s baseball diamond, but Park responds the city park is nicer. Blue stops shitting around and demands to know if anyone’s going to turn into a werewolf or vampire or something.
“Do I have that to look forward to?”
Oh Marc! Kirstin! Someone’s calling for you!
Polly gets nervous and Stacey asks if anyone’s actually done that in front of him, creeping Blue when he realizes no one considers the possibility that he’s joking even though HE knows he isn’t. Blue tries to pass this off as indeed his attempt at ribbing. The kids solemnly warn him to be careful. Things go from bad to OH SHIT when Blue re-enters the classroom after getting a drink from the water fountain to hear Mrs. Storch announcing the class will stay late to write “I can be quiet when asked to be” a hundred times for being disruptive. Blue is horrified, fearing the possibility of being locked in the school with his inhuman classmates and what they might do to him once they’ve cornered him.
With each sentence wrote, he said to himself, I will not get locked in with monsters, I will not get locked in with monsters, I will not get locked in with monsters…
By the time Blue has finished, he’s the only left in the classroom besides Mrs. Storch. It seems it’s gotten pretty late. Blue tries to get his books from his locker and get out as quickly as possible, and is so on edge when Tim startles Blue he reflexively swings his backpack and manages to leave a DENT in a locker. [Wing: Well goddamn, Blue.] Tim said he was afraid to leave by himself because of how dark it got so quickly, so he waited by Blue’s locker. The two boys can’t believe how empty the school is. Do the teachers leave as quickly as the students? Are they afraid, too?
As Blue and Tim start walking down the hall, they begin to hear footsteps that DON’T belong to them. Blue tells Tim to keep moving, but Tim can’t help but feel like bait. Blue is sure it might be the janitor, but that’s only because he hasn’t known Basement Bart that long to consider him a pleasurable alternative. Blue snaps at Tim to keep calm until they get outside where it’s, hopefully, safer. Unfortunately, at the end of the hall by the stairway, several figures begin to emerge.
One has the lower body of a horse.
One is floating in the air.
And one appears to have a single eyeball in the center of his forehead.
Blue takes control of the situation, grabbing Tim and fleeing for Mrs. Storch’s room, the only one they know is still open. Blue orders Tim to help with barricading the door by pushing the desks, chairs, anything against it, yet something strikes the door hard enough to force the desks back. Blue considers fleeing through the window.
“Break a window? We can’t do that! We’d get in trouble!” Tim cried.
“Get in trouble? We are in trouble, in case you haven’t noticed,” Blue said.
Blue points out the windows are too small to open and flee through when something big and heavy crashes against the door. Blue and Tim keep trying to hold off whatever is trying to get in from the other side of the door, when Blue has an idea concerning the window and the class closet. Blue whispers his plan to Tim, that Tim open two windows before hiding in the closet. Blue will shout for Tim to flee to the window and that he’ll be right behind him, when really he’ll hide in the closet as well, making the monsters THINK they escaped and so they can wait until they leave to actually get the fuck out of there. The plan gets executed, and through the crack in the door, Blue sees Eduardo turn into a bat and fly through the window to follow the boys while Cyril orders the others to split up. Blue and Tim quietly go over their options, hoping the monsters will leave for good. And if they don’t, well, Blue’s ready to fight.
Inside the closet, the boys wonder what their classmates have in store for them, Blue sarcastically thinking they just want to be friends. Blue advises they should split up once they get outside, that way at least one of them could possibly get help. Sadly, the moment they’re ready to get out, the monsters return. Blue can hear comments from Eduardo saying he’s not surprised Blue got away so quickly, since he’s-
Melissa cuts him off, some arguing arises as Ginger teases Eduardo for not being fast enough to keep tabs on Tim, a human. [Wing: Telling. Very telling.] Melissa says they need to end this tonight.
“In case you don’t remember what day it is.”
“Full moon,” said another voice.
“Werewolves are so predictable,” said Ginger.
Something that sounded like a bark answered her.
Ginger said, “Ooh, I’m afraid of the big bad werewolf.”
Cyril orders everyone to stop, since, as they all know, it’s the second full moon of the month, which means…
But Blue doesn’t find out what this means when a plant tendril snakes into the closet and yanks Blue out by his ankle. Blue stomps and fights the plant to make it let go, but it’s too late, and now he’s got a good look at his captors.
- Ginger the Dragon
- Melissa the Gorgon
- Cyril the Cyclops
- Phillip the Centaur
- Griff the Griffin (WHO?! Ugh this always pissed me off because this is the first time somebody named Griff was mentioned)
- Eduardo the Vampire
- Ralph the Werewolf
- Plus an unidentified witch and mummy
(Ginger by Levy Rasputin – So this isn’t what Ginger looks like when she’s fully a dragon, but there wasn’t enough detail about how she looks in that form so I settled for meeting it halfway. Guys you have NO idea how lucky we are to have this for the recap. I took a big risk by asking Levy if it was possible to set this up for the review even though she closed commissions for good, but I always had the idea for Ginger next to her name and I would’ve regretted not asking her. She did this for me as a freebie, even though I didn’t really have any decent references for Ginger, and she finished it weeks before the review went up. I want everyone to go to Levy’s tumblr and thank her for this awesome piece.) [Wing: God, this is gorgeous, and I love Ginger so damn much.]
The kids are surprised Blue is there, and ask what happened to Tim. Blue lies and says Tim escaped, but Ralph can tell he’s trying to protect Tim. Eduardo is confused wondering why Blue would want to protect a *ugh* human like Tim. Ginger has to spell it out that Blue is protecting Tim because they’re friends, confusing the vampire boy because “We” don’t make friends with people like Tim. Cyril points out Blue did, confusing Blue more than he was before when, surprising EVERYONE, Tim steps out of the closet with his fists raised. Blue and the monsters are both impressed by Tim, Cyril commenting Blue obviously knew what he was doing. Blue finally loses the last shred of patience and screams at his classmates to just get it over with and try to eat them instead of playing with their food.
And then everyone but Blue and Tim started laughing their asses off.
Cyril realizes Blue honestly didn’t know he’s one of them. Blue still doesn’t understand, when Tim notices something awful. As the moonlight enters the dark classroom, the blue glow from the previous night has returned. Only BLUE is the only thing in the room glowing. Blue seems terrified, which pisses Ginger off that he thinks it’s so bad. Blue doesn’t know what’s happening to him, which makes Cyril realize he’s one of the few whose parents don’t know either.
“That you’re not an ordinary human. Or not human at all. It all depends on the, er, species.”
“Watch it,” growled Ralph the werewolf.
Cyril explains he grew up hearing horror stories about humans the same way Blue grew up hearing stories about monsters and mythical creatures. They know Blue was born during a blue moon, and admittedly not everyone born under such circumstances gains extraordinary abilities. His parents gave Blue the name with a subconscious sense of what he could do, it wasn’t a coincidence. Cyril figures this is the first blue moon after Blue turned 12. Besides glowing, he can probably do other things, like run at the speed of moonlight (which explains why Blue was so fast). Blue’s trying to figure out the how and why, but Ginger gets excited saying who gives a shit? Everybody’s born with something special, but theirs is just a little more special than most. Blue realizes he’s not quite as freaked out by Ginger’s dragon face as he was before, or any of the other freaky features of the other kids. Blue’s even able to dim the glow by concentrating, and is starting to think it’s cool.
That just raises the question of Tim. Eduardo scornfully refers to Tim as a human, pissing Ralph off. Phillip thinks maybe Dr. Morthouse put Tim in Storch’s class as a joke. They recognized right off he wasn’t a monster, Ginger explaining they were only messing with him thinking he’d prefer being in a normal class instead of theirs, that they hated him. Blue stands by Tim, saying he’ll transfer out of the class if Tim does. Melissa advises Blue he wouldn’t be happy trying to pass, to fit in with the other kids, something they’ve probably had to deal with themselves. Tim declares he’s not leaving and no one can make him. The monster kids don’t have a problem with this after all. The kids realized how late it is and straighten up the classroom before leaving. The plant then makes itself known, Melissa revealing his name’s Virgil, and he’s the class pet. Melissa explains Virgil’s got a weird sense of humor, but like every pet you reward him for being good and scold him for being bad. Don’t let him push you around. Blue gets the hang of it and pets Virgil’s leaves. Before leaving the class, the kids make sure the coast is clear of Basement Bart, or worse, Dr. Morthouse. It seems there’s shit going on in this school even Cyril and the others are terrified of. That can’t be good. [Wing: God, everything about this is so great.]
At lunch the next day, Park invites some boys for a sleepover at his place followed by a baseball game the next day. Blue can’t make the sleepover, but Park still invites him to the baseball game. Blue takes him up on that, and even offers to bring some friends.
At night, Blue joins a game of midnight soccer on his front lawn, using his new abilities to hang out with his friends.
So you can see why this book is one of my favorites, and why I waited til the night of the blue moon for the review to go up. I love the variety in the cast and it raises so many questions. If there’s a monster class at Graveyard School, will Marc Wolfson be placed in it when he’s old enough? And what about Kirstin Bjork? Do Cyril and the others know who she is? I have some ideas about the unidentified mummy kid, but those have to wait for when I review “Don’t Tell Mummy.”
[Wing: This book — hell, this entire series — is such a joy and a delight. I’m constantly charmed by the characters and the friendships and the cheesy fun of the monsters and the names.]
One of the only downsides I see about this book is it doesn’t really describe what the kids look like so much, making it difficult for commissions.
I found some old notes in a notebook in an idea I had for a story called “The Halloween War,” about the kids in Mrs. Storch’s class getting involved in a prank war with a group of monster kids from Belville Academy. The only names I could find were:
- Troy “Spike” Briggs, who can turn into an anklyosaurus
- Anaxandria “Xandra” Cornaro, a French transfer student who can turn into a kelpie
I have at least one idea for a story featuring Ginger:
“Why I’ll Never Eat Fried Chicken Again” – Admittedly this was an old title I thought up years ago without a story idea, but, the gist is Ginger teaming up with Jaws to investigate a new fried chicken place that’s opened up in Grove Hill when Jaws somehow finds he can’t stomach the food.
Oh, and, I have just learned Ashley Katchadourian is NOT in charge of the door. She’s in charge of snacks. Jenna Darabond is supposed to be watching the door.
Activities Section: A word search with school terms.
- Polly Hannah’s Wardrobe: Pale yellow tights, blue and yellow flowered jumper with flower shaped buttons, yellow turtleneck, yellow hair bow