Skip to main content

Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom

For some reason I have lately been out of the loop when it comes to books published by Random House. I think this is because they've been rather noncommittal about putting the children's catalogues up on Edelweiss. As a result, I did not know about this upcoming title until the author, David Neilsen,  contacted me to see if I wanted an ARC. I immediately said yes, because Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom sounded like a creepily fun book. And so it is.

The children of Hardscrabble street have used an old abandoned brick house as an imaginative play area for years. When it finally sells, they mourn the loss. Jerry, Gail, and Nancy inform the mysterious new owner of this when they meet him on his  first day in town. After Dr. Fell moves in, he builds a large intricate playground that is the stuff of childhood dreams. All of the children in the neighborhood immediately begin to play on it. Soon children from other neighborhoods are coming too. The playground is constantly full of children who have the inevitable accidents. When this occurs, Dr. Fell swoops them up and fixes their injuries. The parents are as enamored of him as their children. Before long, the entire town is under his spell. Everyone except for Jerry, Gail, and Nancy who are somehow immune to Dr. Fell's winning ways and the only ones who realize something has gone very very wrong in their ideal little town.

Jerry and Gail are siblings. Nancy is Gail's best friend. Jerry is two years younger than the girls, but his mind is sharp and he is well able to keep up with them. Nancy is outspoken, courageous, and snarky. She puts up with Jerry because he's Gail's brother but rarely misses a chance to insult him. Gail is the quiet one who usually goes with the flow and does not like conflict or causing trouble. Together the three kids are a truly great team. They go to great lengths to protect each other from the spell Dr. Fell weaves. Their determination to save each other and their town strong. I liked how much they needed each other too. This is one of those books you find frequently in MG fantasy where the adults are (mostly) of no use and the children are the ones who get to save the day. These books are popular with kids because the love this concept. They want to be heroes and losing themselves in a story like this allows them to be. I think kids are going to particularly enjoy this one due to the way the danger manifests itself.

Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom is a quick read with a fast paced plot. Nielsen does not waste his words and each one is put to good use. There are chapter endings that beg the reader to keep going and the sentence level writing is truly excellent. It has a perfect cadence and rhythm. This is a book that begs to be read aloud. I particularly enjoyed how well the novel balances creepy with humor. It is incredibly Dahl-esque in that way. There are lines that are laugh out loud funny and moments of spine tingling terror. It is the sort of terror most kids love, the kind that makes them feel afraid while knowing they are still safe. The humor helps with this. It is exactly the right sort of book to hand 3rd through 6th graders who enjoy such things.

I highly recommend this one. Teachers should keep it mind for an October read aloud. The cover and length of the book make it an easy sell to kids and it is one they won't be disappointed in. I can not wait to share it with my son because I know he will love it. I don't say that lightly about him. He is incredibly choosy about his books.

I read an ARC I received courtesy of the author.  Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom is on sale August 9th from Crown Books for Young Readers.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Shorter Musings MG Fantasy

Here are some shorter musings on recent MG fantasy reads. Anya and the Dragon   by Sofiya Pasternack This book is fun. It is a book full of adventure, an obvious bad guy, some more complicated morally gray area characters, and a strong, brave heroine. It is also a book about friendships, community, and fighting for what is right. All things that usually work for me really well. While I enjoyed this, I did feel it was a little overlong and there were certain plot points at the end I didn't love. However, there were things I thought were done really well, such as Anya's Jewish faith and the idea that power needs to be challenged. In the end it was a middle of the road read for me, but it is one I will certainly be recommending to dragon and fantasy adventure lovers I know! R is for Rebel   by J. Anderson Coats This is tough because I usually really like Coats's books. I had such a hard time with this one though on so many levels. It's difficult to get into because t

TTT: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly themed blog hop created by  The Broke and the Bookish  and now hosted at  That Artsy Reader Girl . This Week's Topic: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List From Most Recent to Least: What books have recently caught your eye?

Future Favorite Friday: June 2018

I take the 2nd Friday of every month to highlight some upcoming releases I am looking forward to that I hope are Future Favorites. Feel free to do your own post, just please link back to my blog and tell me about your post in the comments. Two Naomis  was one of my favorite reads of 2016 so I was understandably excited it's getting a sequel.  In this sequel to  Two Naomis , now that Naomi Marie’s mom and Naomi E.’s dad are married, the girls have learned to do a lot of things together, like All-Family Sunday dinners, sixth-grade homework, navigating the subway system by themselves, and visiting their favorite bakeries. Until sixth grade in a new school presents a whole new set of surprises and challenges. Trusting her gut has worked for Naomi E. all her life, and she figures that it will be an asset to her role as a Peer Mediator—until she realizes how much of the job requires the Art of Compromise, which she’s only just starting to get used to at home. Naomi Marie i

The Reece Malcolm List

The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding surprised me. Enough people I trust enjoyed it so I knew I would like it, but wasn't expecting to like it as much as I do. It is a really great book that is fun and has real heart and soul too. Synopsis: Things I know about Reece Malcolm: 1. She graduated from New York University. 2. She lives in or near Los Angeles. 3. Since her first novel was released, she’s been on the New York Times bestseller list every week. 4. She likes strong coffee and bourbon. 5. She’s my mother. Devan knows very little about Reece Malcolm, until the day her father dies and she’s shipped off to live with the mother she’s never met. All she has is a list of notebook entries that doesn’t add up to much. L.A. offers a whole new world to Devan—a performing arts school allows her to pursue her passion for show choir and musicals, a new circle of friends helps to draw her out of her shell, and an intriguing boy opens up possibilities for her first love. But the

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Serafina and the Black Cloak  by Robert Beatty is a thrilling tale of mystery and adventure set at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC in 1899. Having lived in Asheville and visited the house several times, there was no way I was going to pass up a chance to read this. (Also it's MG fantasy, always a bonus for me.) Serafina lives in secret in the basement of the Vanderbilt's spacious vacation home. She has lived there most of her life. Her father worked on the house as it was being built and is the mechanic who runs the massive generator and keeps the electricity going. Serafina is the chief rat catcher, slipping through the halls of her massive home secretly and quietly. She is light on her feet, sees well in the dark, and is quick enough to catch the vermin and keep them out. Serafina knows she if different and strange. Her father insists she stay hidden. But all that changes when one night Serafina witnesses a horrible crime. A little girl, a guest in the house, is fleein