Review Blog

Apr 06 2010

Locked In: Monstrum House by Z. Fraillon

cover image

Hardie Grant Egmont, 2010. ISBN: 978 1921564253.
Recommended for ages 10 and above. When Jasper McPhee gets himself into yet another bout of trouble at school, his thirteenth birthday sees him en route to The Monstrum House School for Troubled Children. Despite the cool uniform of 'black trackie dacks and a brown hoodie', the school does not seem in the least bit welcoming and a sinister feeling abounds. He and some other students are singled out from the crowd and informed that they will be based on the school's other campus to which they travel by plane. Their arrival at the equally creepy, ice-bound carbon copy of the first school sees the teenagers being introduced to the thuggish prefects and some unusual teachers. Here, they learn that the school is teeming with monsters and that their role is to capture them.

Fraillon has written a fast-paced adventure which leaves the reader eagerly awaiting the second installment, due out on April 1st. Easy vocabulary, double-spaced print, twenty full page illustrations and a number of other small diagrams break the story into manageable chunks. The author would appear to be writing for the likes of Jasper: the bored, troublesome, disruptive protagonist in the tale. One cannot help but draw a parallel between this series and Muchamore's Cherub series. Both deal with male characters being sent off to receive a very different type of education in which they can utilise their different learning styles and skills, a concept likely to appeal to most children. This should prove to be a most popular series, particularly for the middle to upper primary boys for whom reading is generally a chore.
Jo Schenkel, Pilgrim School

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