cover image Young Scrooge: A Very Scary Christmas Story

Young Scrooge: A Very Scary Christmas Story

R.L. Stine. Feiwel and Friends, $16.99 (192p) ISBN 978-1-250-07015-9

Stine brings his characteristic humor and light scares to a reworking of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, set at Oliver Twist Middle School. Twelve-year-old Rick Scroogeman relentlessly bullies his classmates, tormenting Josh Cratchitt, who has a stutter, and sabotaging the school play (thousands of ants are involved) after learning that he was denied a part because the other students are afraid of him. Stine sticks to the rough outline of the Dickens story line while including ample twists, chilling situations, and jokes: Rick is accidentally visited by Marley’s ghost, who is haunting the wrong house, and Rick’s version of the Golden Rule translates to “Do it to others before they do it to you.” The Ghost of Christmas Past, a hooded figure, whisks Rick to a long-ago school, where he gets a taste of bullying from students who mock him and trick him into diving into a pigpen. The Ghost of Christmas Present allows Rick’s peers to speak for themselves, and the final ghost offers Rick a vision of a terrifying, zombie-filled future. It’s eerie holiday fun, and Stine resists making Rick’s eventual turnaround too sugary-sweet. Ages 9–12. (Sept.)