Nightmare at the Book Fair
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Nightmare at the Book Fair

4.0 20
by Dan Gutman

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Trip Dinkleman hates to read. Hates, hates, hates it.

All he wants to do is play lacrosse. So when the president of the PTA asks Trip to help her out on his way to tryouts, he is not happy. He is even more not happy when a stack of books tumbles onto his head and knocks him out cold. And he is even more not happy when he wakes up and has absolutely no idea where he


Trip Dinkleman hates to read. Hates, hates, hates it.

All he wants to do is play lacrosse. So when the president of the PTA asks Trip to help her out on his way to tryouts, he is not happy. He is even more not happy when a stack of books tumbles onto his head and knocks him out cold. And he is even more not happy when he wakes up and has absolutely no idea where he is. Now all he wants to do is get home. But after encountering a haunted house, aliens, talking animals, and much, much more, he realizes getting home might be just a little bit harder to do than he thought.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

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)

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Children's Literature - Jeanne K. Pettenati J.D.
Trip Dinkleman, the fifth-grade protagonist of this hilarious book, is a young man who "hates" to read. But when he is knocked unconscious while helping to set up books for the book fair, his dreams take him through different genres. He spends time in a horror novel, becomes a football hero in sports fiction, a superhero in humor, a suspect in mystery, an astronaut in historical fiction, and a boy on a quest in fantasy. Each new genre picks up where the last one left off—so when Trip says "I wasn't sure if I was dead or alive" at the end of his adventure story, the next chapter's science fiction story begins with that same line. Children will be amused to see some characters reappear in the various genres, assuming different roles in each of the stories. When this happens, Trip has to adjust his mindset to the new role the character is playing. For example, in the horror story, the lovely blond character Carrie saves him from the evil Professor Psycho. In the sports fiction story, Carrie becomes Mrs. Dinkleman. She reappears as "Luv Interest Olson," a girl on a quest, in the fantasy genre. References to pop culture abound. Entertaining, quirky and fast-paced are good terms for describing this book, which will have young readers laughing out loud. Reviewer: Jeanne K. Pettenati, J.D.
School Library Journal

Gr 4-6

Fifth-grader Trip Dinkleman gets roped into helping set up the school's book fair, a loathsome task for a boy who hates to read. While attempting to move a particularly heavy crate, he loses control and a number of volumes come crashing down on his head, knocking him out cold. Trip then finds himself in various implausible scenarios-from playing in the Super Bowl to landing on the moon. He wonders if he will ever return to reality or be stuck as a book character forever. Each chapter represents a new genre. The result is a mixed bag of humorous scenarios and underdeveloped story lines. Gutman succeeds when he delves into historical fiction and humor, but falters when attempting to mimic the styles of science fiction, horror, and "girl fiction." The novel is not helped along by an undeveloped main character whose odd actions make him hard to root for, and the transitions between the chapters confuse readers. The ending comes suddenly, and they are left wondering how the events even came to pass. This one is only for die-hard Gutman fans.-Beth Cuddy, Seward Elementary School, Auburn, NY

Kirkus Reviews
A determined nonreader suffers toxic exposure to genre fiction when a bookcase falls on his head. Reluctantly agreeing to help set up a display in his school's media center, Trip Dinkleman blacks out beneath a shower of volumes-and wakes up (in a new chapter titled "Horror") outside an eerie haunted house. About to have his face cut off at the command of leering Professor Psycho, Trip suddenly finds himself in "Sports Fiction," carrying the ball in the Super Bowl. So it goes, each new chapter starting with the previous one's last line, through Adventure, Humor, Mystery and the rest of the roster. After a riotously over-the-top Fantasy quest ("I am Hockaloogie, . . . a wise and mystical sage who occasionally speaks in old English and refuses to give away plot details for his own mysterious reasons") and a horrifying stint as a female in Fiction for Girls, Trip comes to and discovers that his negative attitude toward reading has been thoroughly spoiled. Gutman has way too much fun here, and reading-assignment-weary young readers will, too. (Fantasy and everything else. 10-12)

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.70(d)
610L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

The Book Fair

"Hey Dinkleman!"

I turned around. Lionel Jordan slammed his locker shut and slung his backpack over his shoulder. The three o'clock bell had just rung and the hallway was filling up with kids. Lionel and I have been best friends since I don't know when.

"You tryin' out for lacrosse, Dink?" Lionel asked.

"No doubt," I told him. "I'll meet you over at the field."

In most towns, middle school starts in sixth grade. But they had some overcrowding problem in the elementary schools, so they had to put the fifth grade into the middle school in our town. That meant we got lockers, and we didn't have to sit in one room staring at the same teacher all day. It also meant we could go out for sports for the first time. I thought about trying out for football, because I'm pretty big for my age. But I'm not very good. Me and Lionel decided we'd have the best chance of making the lacrosse team because all their best players moved up to high school this year.

"I hope you make the team, Trip," my social studies teacher, Mrs. Babcock, said as she walked by my locker. "Don't forget to study for the quiz tomorrow."

"Oh, I'll know everything about the three branches of government, Mrs. Babcock," I promised.

The media center is right around the corner from my locker. There was a big sign on the wall -- this way to the book fair!

Ugh. I make it a point not to set foot in the media center if I can help it. I don't like to read. Never did. I mean, I read okay, I guess. I read when I have to. It's just kind of boring to sit there looking at words on a page. I'd rather run around.

One time the media specialist, Miss Durkin, told me that if I like sports so much, I would probably enjoy reading sports books. But why read about kids running around playing sports when I can be running around playing sports myself?

"Excuse me, is your name Trip Dinkleman?"

It was Mrs. Pontoon, president of the PTA. She was standing outside the media center. I guess she knew my name because her daughter Lauren is in a few of my classes.


"We need a big strong boy to help us move some crates," Mrs. Pontoon said. "Can you help us out?"

"I'm kind of on my way to lacrosse tryouts," I told her.

"Oh, this will only take a few minutes."

Snagged! I followed her into the media center. Mrs. Pontoon talks really fast.

"The PTA wants to buy the school one of those super high-tech whiteboards, you know, the kind that hook up to a computer and you can print things out?" Mrs. Pontoon said, barely stopping to take a breath. "But they're very expensive so we had to raise the money, and my original plan was to hold a fund raiser where we'd have the students sell gift wrapping paper, but Principal Miller didn't like the idea of kids knocking on strangers' doors so he said we could have a book fair instead and we need some help because Mr. Dunn the custodian told me he had to mop the cafeteria so it will dry in time for the chorus to come in so it's very nice of you to help...."

Mrs. Pontoon is one of those ladies who never stops talking. My mom says that if you asked Mrs. Pontoon what time it is, she would tell you how to build a clock.

The book fair wasn't set up yet in the media center. They had these giant crates -- taller than me -- scattered around. There must have been ten of them. Mrs. Pontoon told me that all the books for the book fair were in the crates. She needed help opening them and sliding them into a line along the wall. I pushed against one of the crates. It was really heavy. This was going to be a big job.

If I had finished at my locker a few seconds earlier, it occurred to me, I would be at lacrosse tryouts instead of helping set up the book fair.

Miss Durkin came over with a plate full of cookies. I have a total sweet tooth, and I pounced on it.

"Since you're nice enough to help, Trip, the least I can do is offer you a treat."

I feel sorry for Miss Durkin. She's always really busy because she's also the media specialist at my old elementary school. She works there three days a week and comes to our school for two days. And she doesn't even have an assistant. She always seems stressed out.

I opened the latch on one of the big crates and pushed the two sides apart. When the crate was opened up, it was like a big set of bookshelves. It was filled with picture books for little kids. The books were all lined up and organized, ready for kids to buy them. Maybe it wouldn't take too long after all.

I struggled to push open the next crate, which was even heavier. When I finally got it open, I could see why it was so heavy. It was filled with dictionaries and encyclopedias. Ugh. Who would want to buy one of them?

The crate was too heavy to slide. I had to rock it back and forth to get it to move across the floor. That's what I was doing when, suddenly, I don't know what happened, I guess I rocked it too much or, I don't know, but some of those fat ones on the top shelf must have leaned or something, and the next thing I knew the whole shelfful of them was coming down, and I tried to get my hands up, but...

Bam! Oh, my head!

Copyright © 2008 by Dan Gutman

Meet the Author

Dan Gutman hated to read when he was a kid. Then he grew up. Now he writes cool books like The Kid Who Ran for President; Honus & Me; The Million Dollar Shot; Race for the Sky; and The Edison Mystery: Qwerty Stevens, Back in Time. If you want to learn more about Dan or his books, stop by his website at

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Nightmare at the Book Fair 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book! It puts you at the edge of your seat. So suspensful. Truly amazing that dan gutman can come up with that book, unlike the christmas genie which i was very disappointed in. Nightmare at the book fair is sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much better than christmas genie. I highly reccomend this book to readers 9+. Its kinda violent and really creepy at times. If you like that stuff and your under nine go ahead and read it. Who knows, you might like it!!!! Once again, i'm not saying that if your under nine your not alwed to read it, i'm just saying that it might creep you out a little bit. I'm eleven and it scared me. Great book!!!! You write some awesome stories, dan gutman!!!! This book is definitaley worth the $$$$$$!!!!!! Love, Bumble bee P.s. if you look at other customer reviews for other books or apps you might see me again! Feel free to write acustomer review on the same app or book that i wrote on if you have any questions and i'll get back to you as soon possible!!!! Have a blessed day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For many students a book fair is where you buy books, but for Trip it¿s a nightmare! Trip absolutely hates reading and the only thing he thinks about is lacrosse. Lionel, his friend also loves lacrosse and they are so close, like brothers.
In the first chapter Trip is going to lacrosse tryouts, but then he runs into the PTA President who asks him to help with the book fair. He agrees, but when two books fall on him the nightmare begins! As the Trip tries to get home, he runs into aliens, a haunted house and talking animals and so much more! So does he survive or not? I would recommend this book for 9-11 year olds.
When I read this book, I was at the tip of my seat. This book reminds me of my mom, she has crazy dreams also.
The author of this book is amazing! I love Dan Gutman¿s other books like Getting Air, and Virtually Perfect. He was born in New York in 1955. He attended Rutgers University. He graduated in 1977. He was studying physiology and decided to be an author. I hope that decision wasn¿t a nightmare for Dan Gutman.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This books seems really really really boring. Genius file is way better than this book
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the first few chapters then gave it to my 9 year old. He enjoyed it a lot. Each scenario of the "nightmare" is pretty creative, and filled with adventure. The book kept his interest. The chapters are kind of odd, each being a nightmare with no bridge to the next nightmare. That was ok though. Glad we got the book. The first chapter is about Dr. Psycho who has diabolical intent. If you think it's too much for your kids don't get the book. It was ok for us. kind of reminded me of some of the Goosebump stories. Other nightmares involve being on a football team, and other tame situations.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh boogie thats how you spell it ¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dont hate transgendered its not graphic theyre just making a point about chick literature so dont be hating rainbows rule
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Me 7year old
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Carla Annese More than 1 year ago
Omg i love this book i did it 4 a book report once but there are 2 many places
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LooneyTuned04 More than 1 year ago
I got this book as a gift since I am the chair person of a book fair. The book was great until I got to almost the end when one of the characters ends up being transgendered. I have issues with the age range of 8-12 year olds reading about a character is a man in the story, but at one time was a female. I don't think this is something that an 8 year old should be reading. Thank goodness I read this before I gave it to a teacher to read to her class. It was very interesting until then. I am very disappointed in this since his other books have been great.
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