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School of Fear Paperback – September 7, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4–6—"Large glass lanterns [hung] from rusted old chains." Descriptions like this one set the scene for a secret, yet elite school for eradicating children's fears. Four 12-year-olds are sent there with the hope that they'll overcome fears of bugs, confined spaces, water, and death. When they arrive, they discover that they are the only students in a school run by a seemingly crazy ex-beauty queen. Forced to learn waving and proper pageant smiling for hours on end, the students wonder if they'll ever escape. Of course, they must face their fears in order to get away and bring back help for a servant. The school isn't what it seems, and the villains aren't who they appear to be. The story is hilarious for its over-the-top gloominess. Each chapter begins with the definition of a type of fear, e.g., arachibutyrophobia (the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth). Suggest this one to fans of Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" (HarperCollins).—Kelly Roth, Bartow County Public Library, Cartersville, GA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Former Contrafilms Director of Development, Gitty Daneshvari is the author of the adult novel The Makedown. This is Gitty's debut children's book, and it was inspired by her many childhood fears. She hoped that one day they'd help her, and, as it turns out, they have. She lives in New York.

Carrie Gifford spent many years teaching and directing children's theater before starting Red Cap Cards with her husband. Her signature pencil-and-ink style is inspired by her childhood memories. She lives in Los Angeles.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Series: School of Fear (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (September 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316033278
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316033275
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I read it and found its plot very clever and the characters well-developed.
Amazon Customer
So much time is spent on the characters that the plot suffers; there's a weak twist at the end, but the resolution of the phobia treatment is a thorough letdown.
Theoden Humphrey
I would recommend reading this book to your kids for this is the kind of book that's more enjoyable when shared.
Brett Farrell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By RPK on August 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
School of Fear was a truly hilarious entry to the world of pre-teen epics. The premise is simple: Four middle school aged kids with life-altering phobias are sent to The School Of Fear-A highly secluded, mysterious mansion run by the eccentric, Ex-beauty queen Mrs. Wellington.

The kids are the life of the story. Madeline hails from England, clad in a mosquito-net styled veil to protect herself from bugs and creepy crawlies. She constantly douses herself with bugspray and her proper demeanor and attitude had me cracking up throughout the book.

Theo, a plump and paranoid boy, has a fear of death. He reminded me of a mini-Monk in a way, with his fear of germs and falling objects.

Garrison is the heart-throb of the bunch, with his athletic abilities and good looks, But his paralyzing fear of water has put a damper on his personal life-especiall his relationship with his sporty father.

Lulu is a typical pre-teen, with the biting attitude and non-chalant ways. She has a debilitating form of clausterphobia and can't bear to be in tiny spaces. She is also Mrs. Wellington's favorite student due to her possibilities of becoming a pageant queen because of her good-looks.

Mrs. Wellington is easily one of the best characters in kid-lit in a while. She is creepy yet funny. Sophisticated yet disgusting (she has a love for things that stink and keeps a room filled with jars of various rotting foods...and another room where she covers herself in fungus as an entire ensemble). Her teaching methods are hysterical and widely revolve around her own personal experiences in beauty pageants, much to the kids dismay.

The story does get a bit tedious towards the middle and I felt a bit hopeless at one point.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Aaron C. Brown TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The review below was written by my 12-year-old daughter. I read the book as well. Adults will appreciate the subtle and beautiful language, but not the simple plot and characters. The plot echoes Stephen King's Quitter's Inc. wihout the dark complexity of that short story. It reminds me of a children's play, with striking sets and costumes, snappy dialog and a (sort-of) surprise ending; but too short and simple to tell much of a story.

This warning is probably unnecessary, but no one should buy this book for a sensitive or realistic protrayal of psychological problems. The characters have ordinary childhood fears exaggerated for comic effect, and they erode rather than intensify under stress. Read it for fun, not for medical advice.

My daughter's review:

School of Fear is a good, original book with a plot much simpler than its language. It appears to be aimed for an audience of 4th graders with a wide vocabulary. School of Fear is not the best written book I have ever read but is still good with a well planned twist ending. The author displays the children's phobias well and gives life to each individual character. The story, although not very realistic, does not cross over into the realm of fantasy.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Denise Patterson VINE VOICE on July 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What is it about boarding schools that make such great books?

School of Fear is about four kids, each with his or her own paralyzing phobia, who go to a summer session boarding school for a six week program designed to cure their fears. But as soon as they get there, it becomes apparent that the weirdness of the school may be more to deal with than the phobias... I just got my advance copy of this 330-page book yesterday, and I had to stay up late last night to finish reading it. The plot is delightfully unpredictable, the dialogue snappy, and the characters vividly fleshed out. Somebody take note - this would make a really fun movie! I laughed out loud so much while reading it that my husband put down his usual science fiction to borrow School of Fear today.

At its heart, this is not a heavy book, despite its theme of children dealing with phobias. Yes, it's about fear, but it's not really insightful into the nature of fear - it's not bibliotherapy, nor meant to be. Instead this is a lighthearted romp in a world of crazed ex-pageant queens, a library of horrible smells, and the wonderfully named Fearnasium, where the kids - what else? - exercise their fears.

The only thing I didn't like about the book was that the ending seemed rushed (a common problem I've noticed with beginning novelists; this is Daneshvari's second book). While a lot of time is given early in the book to wonderful descriptions that don't advance the plot but DO set the mood and tone beautifully, when it comes to the climactic moment at the end, when the kids make a sudden discovery that SHOULD be a huge shocker, instead the discovery is dealt with almost summarily, mid-chapter, with little sense that the kids are surprised.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Happy Chappy VINE VOICE on November 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
School of Fear was a book that I ordered through the Amazon Vine Program. I enjoy books of all types, but I ordered this book specifically to read to my 10-year-old daughter. The book did not really grab her attention, though she listened to the entire book. I think the biggest problem with the book from my daughter's standpoint was that the characters were tough to sympathize with. We became more interested as the book progressed. I enjoy British books and find that style of writing to be an acquired taste. The comparisons to the Lemony Snicket books are right on the money. I will definitely read the next book. I am not sure if my daughter will be interested. I did get a real kick out of the dark comic humor. The different phobias described were interesting. I give this book 4 stars and recommend it for the 13 and over crowd.
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