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Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom

Review

Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom

If you like thrills, chills and lots of whimsical language, David Neilsen's DR. FELL AND THE PLAYGROUND OF DOOM is the perfect book for you. Fans of Lemony Snicket and the Spiderwick Chronicles will adore this fun, but spooky trip to the mysterious house on Hardscrabble Lane.

For years siblings Gail and Jerry and their friend Nancy have joined their friends and schoolmates in playing in the old, abandoned house on their block. Filled to the brim with the wild imaginations of children, the house has acted as a spaceship, a pirate ship and even the setting for an intergalactic battle or two. At the start of DR. FELL AND THE PLAYGROUND OF DOOM, however, the children's lives are about to change, as the house has been purchased by a mysterious little man named Dr. Fell.

"If you like thrills, chills and lots of whimsical language, David Neilsen's DR. FELL AND THE PLAYGROUND OF DOOM is the perfect book for you."

You can probably already piece together the fact that Dr. Fell is no ordinary physician. Tiny and unbelievably old, Dr. Fell is curious from the start --- and that's even before he opens his mouth. Readers old and young will delight in his whimsical speech patterns and gratuitous usage of terms like "whippersnapper" and "urchins." Soon, however, the children are even more shocked to discover that Dr. Fell --- in an apparent act of apology for taking over the town playground --- has constructed an impossibly large, seemingly endless playground on his property. While most of the town's children are overcome with glee, Gail, Jerry and Nancy cannot seem to shake the feeling that the playground is more ominous than generous. As such, they are the only children who do not play on it.

For days and days children from all over town and even surrounding towns show up to visit Dr. Fell's amazing playground. Soon, however, they begin to suffer traumatic injuries one by one --- only to be treated by Dr. Fell and return in a nearly zombie-like state of compliance and dedication to the good doctor. With more and more parents falling under his spell and encouraging their children to play, it is up to Gail, Jerry and Nancy to discover what Dr. Fell is really hiding and how to stop him from hurting their beloved classmates and family members.

What follows is an action-packed hunt for truth, with young Jerry often taking the lead with his brainy, albeit wacky solutions. As readers race to uncover the truth, Neilsen's hilarious, yet dramatic writing keeps the pages flipping faster and faster. His talent for comedy is truly refreshing, particularly as a foil to the heavy topics often portrayed in middle-grade literature. As Neilsen's debut, DR. FELL AND THE PLAYGROUND OF DOOM welcomes a delightful new voice to children's books and leaves the door open for great things. Whippersnappers and urchins young and old will adore this first book and eagerly await more from this fresh talent --- and, hopefully,  the nefarious Dr. Fell.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on August 29, 2016

Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom
by David Neilsen

  • Publication Date: August 1, 2017
  • Genres: Children's 8-12, Fiction, Horror
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling
  • ISBN-10: 1101935812
  • ISBN-13: 9781101935811