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School of Fear

by Gitty Daneshvari
Read by Emma Walton Hamilton


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 ask?

The Book

Hachette Audio
September 1, 2009
Audiobook / Unabridged edition / 6 hours playing time / 5 CDs
1600247938 / 978-1600247934
Fiction / Tweeners / Ages 9-12
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The Reviewer

Beverly J. Rowe
Reviewed 2009
NOTE: Reviewer Beverly J. Rowe is's "Babes to Teens" columnist, covering topics related to reading ideas for the youth in the family.
© 2009