What are you afraid of? This is the story of four twelve-year-olds who have serious and
consuming phobias. For Madeline Masters, it is spiders and bugs of any kind. She wears a
mosquito net over her head, and constantly sprays the area with bug spray. Lulu Punchalower's
worst fear is small spaces. Theodore Bartholomew is sure he is going to die right away, and is
constantly on the lookout for falling objects. Garrison Feldman's phobia is deep water. So
much for swimming.
The kids’ parents are all at their wits' ends, since the phobias definitely disrupt family
life. They individually learn about the School of Fear, and as a last resort, each child is
enrolled in the strange school to help them overcome their fears. The school turns out to be
a secluded mansion in a remote area. School of Fear's rules are hard to take... no cell phones,
no TV... this is probably going to be the worst summer of their lives. This story reminds us
of our own irrational fears and is inspired by the author's childhood fears. The premise of
the school is simply "conquer your fears, or find out how frightening failure can be."
Read by Emma Walton Hamilton, this story has terrific dialogue and compelling characters.
The kids are the main attraction, but Mrs. Wellington, the lady who runs the school, is an
ex-beauty queen and may be the strangest character in the story. Her elderly assistant,
Schmidty, who does all the work at the school, runs her a close second. They are both more
than a little crazy, and the kids are at their mercy. While its six hours of narration ran
a bit too long for my taste, it's a hilarious romp with a happy ending. What more could you