cover image Nightmare at the Book Fair

Nightmare at the Book Fair

Dan Gutman, . . Simon & Schuster, $15.99 (230pp) ISBN 978-1-4169-2438-8

This smartly conceived, action-packed and at times downright silly tale offers further proof of Gutman's (The Million Dollar Shot ) skill at entertaining tween boys. Trip Dinkleman, an unabashed book-hater, gets roped into helping set up some book fair displays on his way to lacrosse tryouts. When a stack of books conks him on the head, he is catapulted through a number of popular genres, starring as the main character in each sample. First he meets Professor Psycho, who wants to open a chain of human parts stores; he then moves from horror to sports fiction as he finds himself a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, playing in the Super Bowl. In one especially nutty adventure, Trip winds up in a field with a cornball superhero named Captain Obvious (he gleefully accosts his foes by shouting, “You have two eyes!” and “You are a bad man!”) who gives Trip the name The Alliterator and insists that he speak alliteratively. Each new chapter introduces similarly outré characters who help define (and send up) each genre; readers can happily consume this book section by section. Ages 8–12. (July)