Thursday, March 26, 2015

Tales from Lovecraft Middle School Series

When I visit local book stores, I sometimes glance at the newer books for children, but I seldom pay attention to them.  I saw a few of the Tales from Lovecraft Middle School books on the shelf last month, and for some reason, they caught my eye.  Something about the design of the spines held my attention long enough to cause me to pull the first book off the shelf.  I think it's because the design must have reminded me somewhat of classic series books.

I opened the first book to the first page where I read, "Robert Arthur was surrounded by strangers."  Wait, what?  Robert Arthur wrote the Three Investigators series.  How very odd for his name to be the name of the protagonist in a modern series.  I learned later that the author of these books read the Three Investigators series as a child and named his protagonist after the Three Investigators author, Robert Arthur.

I didn't buy the books that day, but I couldn't get them out of my mind.  I just knew that I would like them, kind of like how I knew I would like reading the Rick Brant series when I had never given it a second thought.  One week later, I went back and purchased the Lovecraft Middle School books.

Four books have been published in the series. 

1.  Professor Gargoyle, 2012
2.  The Slither Sisters, 2013
3.  Teacher's Pest, 2013
4.  Substitute Creature, 2013

The books were written by Jason Rekulak under the alias Charles Gilmer.  The books have lenticular covers, which allows the cover to change between two images.

Robert Arthur is 12 years old and a student at Lovecraft Middle School.  Lovecraft Middle School is a brand-new middle school made entirely from recycled materials, and that is the problem.  Many of the recycled materials came from the Tillinghast Mansion, which has caused the school to be haunted, or perhaps "possessed" is a better word.

These books are loosely similar to the Harry Potter, Fablehaven, Percy Jackson, and other related books, although more simplistic and much shorter.  They are light, quick reads.  These are very good books that could get children, particularly boys, introduced to reading.  They aren't difficult to read or unwieldy, and they are quite engaging.

The title of the series is a nod to H. P. Lovecraft, known for horror fiction.  The alias author's name, Charles Gilmer, is another reference to Lovecraft.  I have never read the works of Lovecraft, but I understand that many names used in these books come from Lovecraft's stories.  As already mentioned, the protagonist is Robert Arthur, which is a nod to the Three Investigators series, which the author read as a child.  In the second book, we learn that Robert's favorite subject is language arts and that he enjoys writing.

The Brixton Brothers series is a modern series that pays homage to vintage juvenile series books, particularly the Hardy Boys.  Those books are light, fun reading.  This series, Tales from Lovecraft Middle School, is similar in that it is also light, fun reading, but instead it pays homage to the fantasy and horror genre.  Like the Brixton Brothers series, Tales from Lovecraft Middle School has delightful moments that will make the reader laugh with glee.

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