School of Fear by Gitty Daneshvari; ill. Carrie Gifford (NY: Little, Brown, 2009).
What's a phobic kid to do? Enroll in the mysterious School of Fear! This quirky class of frightened children with a frightful teacher in a frightening setting earns high marks for originality--and silliness. Madeleine is a veil-wearing girl who douses herself and everyone around her with insect repellant. Theodore Bartholomew freaks out when he cannot ascertain that every member of his family is alive every hour of the day. Lulu Punchalower checks every room for large windows because she's scared of confined spaces, and Garrison Feldman may be a fearless athlete, but he breaks out in a cold sweat whenever he's near water. Their teacher seems like a wacky old lady who can't let go of her beauty queen past. She even refers to the kids as contestants rather than students! And what's with the industrial strength comb-over of the school's caretaker?
The School guarantees successful elimination of crippling phobias, and this novel, while somewhat predictable, is a guaranteed laugh.
Enjoyable read for ages 8 & up. Added bonus: great line drawings that help bring the characters to life.
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