Monday, May 20, 2024

Read Scary: The Notebook of Doom: Rise of the Balloon Goons by Troy Cummings

Genre: Humor; Spooky
Protagonists: Male, Black
Reading Level: N-O; 450-550 (yes, levels are stupid)
Series: Complete with 13 titles (second series, Binder of Doom)
Originally reviewed in 2013

Review: This is the last of the Branches series samples that I reviewed last June and I saved what I think is the best for last.

Alexander Bopp is not happy about moving to a new town, Stermont. He's even more unhappy when creepy balloon goons start showing up everywhere! Mysterious things are happening and it seems like only Alexander and the ripped-up notebook of monsters know what's going on. With a little luck and unexpected bravery, Alex manages to not only defeat the goons but make a new friend. There's more mysteries on the horizon though, and more monsters in the Notebook of Doom!

Not all the illustrations in this book were completed, and it looks like they will be in black and white, but Cummings has a fun, digital style that strikes a perfect line between silly and scary. Alex has darker skin and appears to have a single parent dad, but it's not emphasized, just part of his life. Like the other titles in this series, it's short (only 89 pages) but has more text than an easy reader and lots of illustrations that move the plot along.

Verdict: Kids wanting something scary but not quite ready for something really frightening will like the mild thrills and chills of this story and giggle at the silly aspects. This one I would definitely recommend - there aren't enough scary books for beginning readers.

Revisited: Still in print and still super popular - this is a good opportunity to make sure you have the complete series and they're all in good condition!

ISBN: 9780545493222; Published July 2013 by Scholastic; ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter 2013; Purchased for the library

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