Monday, April 1, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: HECK: WHERE THE BAD KIDS GO

HECK: WHERE THE BAD KIDS GO (Dale Basye, Random House 2008)

The Heck books have been around a while--in fact, I think #6 has just been published. I saw the author at the recent 90-second Newbery festival, and he was as funny as all get-out. I decided to give HECK a shot.

The Story (via Goodreads): When Milton and Marlo Fauster die in a marshmallow bear explosion, they get sent straight to Heck, an otherworldly reform school. Milton can understand why his kleptomaniac sister is here, but Milton is—or was—a model citizen. Has a mistake been made? Not according to Bea “Elsa” Bubb, the Principal of Darkness. She doesn’t make mistakes. She personally sees to it that Heck—whether it be home-ec class with Lizzie Borden, ethics with Richard Nixon, or gym with Blackbeard the Pirate—is especially, well, heckish for the Fausters. Will Milton and Marlo find a way to escape? Or are they stuck here for all eternity, or until they turn 18, whichever comes first?

First Lines: 
Chapter 1. Last Wrongs (my itals--get it? Pun on "Last Rites.")
"In Generica, Kansas, Christmas wasn't something you felt in the chill of the winter air or the warmth of a generous smile. It was announced by the sixteen-foot tower of crystal angels at Grizzly Mall--the Mall of Generica." 
What I Thought: This was downright funny, clever, and gross--classic middle grade, in other words. There's a bunch of very inventive word play, particularly with names. There are "hall demonitors" and other freaky creatures of Heck. Principal Bea "Elsa" Bubb is horrid, and there are several utterly disgusting descriptions of trudging through the sewers of Heck. (Not for the squeamish.)

I also loved the cover art, the drawings above each chapter heading (illustrations by Bob Dob--can this be a real person? I guess so) and the fact that one of the heroes is a ferret called Lucky.

About the Author: (From the back cover) Dale E. Basye lives in Portland, Oregon, as part of the criminal witness-relocation program, where he lives every day in fear that he will be discovered... oh, poop. (Me: He also has a great website.)


  1. This was not a personal favorite of mine, and my students seem to have lost interest after the first few volumes. I haven't bought more than the first three, but they are clever.

  2. I haven't heard of them, but I love the idea of playing around with words and giving them a new spin!

  3. This is a series now, right?
    I remember wanting to read it but life got in the way and I totally forgot about it.
    Thanks a lot for the reminder. :)


  4. Sounds funny. The marshmallow bear explosion got me interested right away.

  5. I read this when it first came out and like Ms. Yingling, it's, uh, not one of my favorites. Maybe I'm a little too squeamish? It was definitely clever, though. I'll give you that! :)

  6. Haven't heard of these before. I'll have to check one out (from the library - ha!).

  7. I LOVE the cover! The story sounds just as awesome! I definitely have to read this one. Thanks for sharing!


  8. Fun stuff. I'm always up for afterlife-themed humor:)

  9. I've seen these and it is on one of my TBR lists. My grandkids are just getting to where I think they may get a kick out of it, especially my Dylan and Jaiden. They are always playing around with words and humor. They definitely like the gross and objectionable. ;)

  10. I love funny, I may have to give these a try! :)


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