School Library Journal
Like the other "Weenies" books, this third collection contains very brief stories for which the term "warped" is an understatement. Lubar clearly knows what sort of icky tale kids find gross and disgusting, yet somehow cool. And how is that possible when the majority of these selections end with death or eternal torment? The author sets up situations with a minimum of fuss and writes in a voice that speaks directly to his audience: kids get squished by bugs; a girl can only get halfway home-forever. Readers can almost hear an evil laugh reverberating at the end of each entry, especially in the final tale about a forgotten monster that plans to return with the help of a storyteller who is clearly Lubar himself. Back matter includes interesting "Where do you get your ideas?" notes. This book will talk itself right off the shelves, and reluctant readers will devour it.
Tim WadhamCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Read an Excerpt
Curse of the Campfire Weenies
MR. HOOHAA!I can stare a werewolf in the face and laugh. I can step up to a vampire and shake his cold, undead hand without trembling. No problem. I've sat through every horror movie that's ever come to our town and visited dozens of Halloween haunted houses. Monsters don't even make me twitch. But clowns creep me out big-time.That usually isn't a problem. I mean, most days, you just aren't going to run into a guy with a round red nose, a huge painted smile, and wild green hair unless you live in a circus town or something. But my little brother's birthday was coming up, and Benji was determined to have a clown."That's a waste of money," I told my mom. "I can entertain the kids." How hard could it be to keep a bunch of six-year-olds amused? I could just push my palm against my mouth and make fart sounds. That alone would keep them happy for at least fifteen minutes."It's nice you want to help, Andrew," my mom said."But Benji has his heart set on a clown. And I found this ad in the paper." She held up the local weekly. There was a small ad that just read: "Mr. HooHaa! The perfect clown for parties.""Looks kind of cheesy," I said.But Mom wouldn't listen. She made the call and booked Mr. HooHaa! for Benji's party."You don't need me, then, right?" I asked after she'd hung up."Of course I'll need you," she said."But ...""And Benji will want you there."So, two weeks later, I found myself filling bowls with potato chips, lining up plastic cups, and helping Mom string streamers and balloons in the living room.About fifteen minutes after the brats--I mean guests--arrived, I glanced out the window just as a van pulled up to the curb. The van was white, with a big smile painted on the side. Above the smile was the name "Mr. HooHaa!""Everything's set," I said to Mom. "Can I go hang out with my friends now?""You can't leave," she said. "You'll miss the clown."That's my plan.The doorbell rang."Would you get that?" she asked.I tried to think of an excuse. The bell rang again.One of the kids screamed as he spilled half a cup of purple juice on his shirt. Two other kids dumped their juice on him. Mom dashed over, then glanced back at meand said, "Get the door, please." She turned to the kids and said, "The clown is here."As shouts of "Yay!" filled the air, I headed for the door. I really didn't want to open it, but I guess I had no choice. It won't be that bad, I told myself. I was wrong. He was standing on the porch. A clown. A creepy, spooky, shivery clown, who smelled like medicine and mildew. I couldn't pick out any one part of him that, by itself, was scary, but the sight of him still made me shudder.I opened the door wider and stepped aside, so I could stay as far away from him as possible. He walked in, pointed a squeeze horn at me, and honked it a couple times. Wonka-wonka."This way," I said, heading for the living room.He rushed past me, leaped into the room, and shouted, "Hey, boys and girls, it's HooHaa! time!" Even his voice made me cringe.I wasn't alone. Half the kids started crying. One tried to crawl under the couch, and another curled into such a tight ball, I was afraid he'd disappear. The clown ignored them and started pulling this really long handkerchief out of his sleeve. Then he honked his horn and fell down. Mom ran around, soothing freaked-out tykes. Benji seemed okay, so I slunk from the room, shivering all the way down to my bones and back up to my clammy flesh.This is so stupid, I told myself. It was ridiculous to be afraid of some guy with a painted face and big shoes. I stepped outside to get away from the laughs and cries."Grow up," I muttered, hating myself for acting likeone of Benji's friends. I stared at the van. Even with the clown smile painted on its side, it wasn't scary. I liked cars and trucks. I understood how they worked and how they were made. I wandered over and looked inside. The backseats had been removed. There was a table there, with a mirror on it. I guess he did his makeup in the van.I looked back at the house. Then I looked in the van again and stared at the mirror. Maybe there was a way to get over my fear.I remembered last year, when Benji had been scared by the vacuum cleaner. I could have told him to stop acting like a baby, but I knew that wouldn't help. Instead, I'd unplugged the vacuum, opened it up, and showed him how it worked. Knowledge beats fear, every time.I went back inside and waited. Mom had only hired Mr. HooHaa! for an hour. Right after he left and I'd heard the van door close, I slipped back outside. I snuck over to the window, hoping he'd take off his makeup before he drove away.It was that simple. If I saw him go from clown to man, maybe that would get rid of my fear. I peeked inside. Yes. He was sitting at the table. I watched him reach up and pull off the rubber nose.I let out a gasp as his real nose unrolled. It was thin and long, like a tiny flattened elephant's trunk that dangled just past his chin. He stripped off his wig, revealing a brain covered by a transparent membrane webbed with tiny veins. Then he reached toward his mouth. As hepeeled off the huge red lips, I realized they weren't painted on. They were plastic. They'd concealed a gumless cluster of long brown teeth that jutted from his jaw like stalactites. He pulled off the gloves. His fingers seemed boneless, like bloated worms. As he leaned over to remove his shoes, I was thankful I couldn't see what was really at the end of his legs.I ducked down as he got up from his seat. A moment later, the van started and Mr. HooHaa! pulled away from the curb. As the van made a left turn at the end of the block, I saw the driver's window roll down. A horn stuck out, clutched in those wormlike fingers. He squeezed a short double honk into the air, then drove out of sight.I stood there for a long time, trying to convince myself I'd been mistaken or fooled in some way. I wanted to believe I hadn't really seen the things I'd just witnessed. But it was all real. Beneath his makeup, this clown was far worse than anything I could have imagined.I sighed and headed inside. As soon as I stepped through the doorway, Benji ran up to me and hugged my leg. "I don't think I like clowns anymore," he said. "They're sort of scary.""You got that right." I picked him up and carried him on my shoulders back to the party. "No more clowns.""But I'm a big boy," he said. "Big boys don't get scared.""Sure we do." I lifted him off my shoulders and deposited him in the midst of his cake-stuffed, sugar-cranked friends. "We just learn to hide it."I was more afraid of clowns than ever. But I guess, in a way, that wasn't such a bad thing. Until today, I had been afraid of them for no reason. Now, it was no longer a silly fear. I wonder whether that will make it any easier to hide.Copyright © 2007 by David Lubar