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Brian Doyle: IMG The Rude Burl of Our Masks



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1 Hawthorne Children's Middle Readers- General

Other titles in the Circles of Heck series:

Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go

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Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go Cover

 

 

Excerpt

In Generica, Kansas, Christmas wasnt something you felt in the chill of the winter air or the warmth of a generous smile. It was announced by the sixteen-foot tower of crystal angels at Grizzly Mall—the Mall of Generica.

And this year was no different—at first. Exhausted shoppers filed by, momentarily entranced by the shimmering, heart-faced, bare-bottomed cupids. That is, until Marlo Fauster smashed them to bits with the oar shed stolen from Spoiled Sports Sporting Goods.

“Lets go!” shrieked Marlo, a blue-haired, thirteen-going-on-thirty-year-old girl, to her gangly younger brother, Milton. Shards of shining wings and harps rained down around them.

The two children bounded across the showroom floor, Marlo running with a look of fierce determination and Milton running out of pure fear. Unbeknownst to both of them, they were also running out of time.

Milton had spent most of his young life avoiding trouble: staring at his shoes, shuffling along unnoticed, ducking away from tense—or even remotely interesting— situations for fear of their potentially dangerous potential. He only felt truly safe when tucked between the covers of a book, experiencing life secondhand.

Marlo, however, was a different story.

Too far was where Marlo lived. If something didnt involve petty (and not-so-petty) crime, it just wasnt worth doing.

Maybe it was all just a cry for attention. Unfortunately, Marlos latest acts of thievery and vandalism were drawing far too much attention. At least thats how Milton saw it through his thick, Coke-bottle glasses as his sister dragged him toward his untimely demise.

They ran past stunned shoppers into the mall concourse, Marlo waving her oar as if rowing furiously through a human sea. Milton fought to keep up.

“That should buy us some time from security!” Marlo squealed with manic glee. It was at times like this, Milton thought, that he was in the presence of—and grudgingly related to—a new kind of evil.

“And you should have bought that stupid oar!” Milton replied, panting.

“Why would I buy an oar?” she asked, giving Miltons arm a sadistic twist. “We live in Kansas, short bus.”

The two siblings darted around a corner and burst into the Grizzly Mall food court.

“Then why . . . ?” Milton stammered in front of Tongue Thaied.

“For the sport of it,” Marlo said with pride. “If I pull this off—the most conspicuous holiday heist in Grizzly Mall history—Ill be a modern-day Kleptopatra.” She paused dramatically, her dark eyes twinkling with reflected Christmas lights. “The stuff of shoplifting legend. And all that expensive makeup is just icing on the cake.”

Milton stared at the pink Goodbye Puppy bag underneath his arm as he trotted onward.

“So all this makeup . . . you didnt need me to just hold it for you back at the cosmetics counter . . . I . . . I just stole . . . lip gloss?”

“And Suburban Blight cheek bronzer with free-radical scavengers and lipid-rich amino moisturizers,” Marlo said while descending an ascending escalator. She grinned. “Welcome to the life, my gullible little apprentice. You are but putty in my skillful hands.”

Behind them, a full-bodied mall security guard lumbered in hot pursuit. Another chunky-style defender of mall law soon joined him, slurping down a smoothie.

Milton looked behind him. Despite their weight being nearly double their IQ, the guards were closing in.

“I cant believe you tricked me into stealing for you!” Milton barked in his squeaky, just-turned-eleven voice.

Marlo snickered. The fact that she could run clad in several layers of black thrift-store dresses, holding an eight-foot oar, and still manage to maintain a superior attitude was impressive.

“You might get all the As in the family, but I certainly aced you,” she snorted, her black lips catching on a fang.

Milton and Marlo rushed into the malls massive atrium, joining a crowd gathered around a white, globby sculpture. A fierce marshmallow bear, frozen in mid-attack, loomed over the horde of gawking Genericans. Below the twenty-foot-tall sugary bruin was a banner declaring “Welcome to Grizzly Mall: Home of the States Second-Largest Bear-Themed Marshmallow Statue!”

Marlos oar sliced through the mass of shoppers like a thin, wooden shark fin.

“Try to blend,” she whispered to her trembling brother.

Milton squished the pink bag of lipstick, fruit-scented creams, and vials of pricey gosh-knows-whats under his armpit. Despite the heat radiating from the mob, Milton shivered. Something—or someone—was near, something so cold that it robbed the heat from his very bones. He squinted through his thick glasses and noticed a dark smudge. He wiped his lenses, but the stubborn smudge was still there, hovering on the edge of the crowd that filled the atrium. The dark smudge was a boy.

A hulking boy. A cruel boy. A boy all too familiar to Milton. A boy who, in many ways, resembled a smudge. A boy whose eyes were dull, dark, wicked slits. A boy whose skin was like puffy, freckled dough that gave off a sickly sweet smell like rotting fruit. A boy named Damian.

Damian sneered at Milton and ran his grubby finger across his throat as he lurched from the mall commons into the heart of the mall. Milton gulped and shut his eyes. On the insides of his eyelids, however, he replayed scenes of Damians notorious cruelty, all of which—unfortunately—starred Milton.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

sotomayor, August 19, 2008 (view all comments by sotomayor)
I am actually the Principal at Heck..... L. Thomas Heck Middle School to be exact!
The school, which will open for the 2009-2010 school year, was named after our recently retired superintendent, Dr. Heck. The school is located just outside of Phoenix, AZ in Litchfield Park Arizona.
We all were very excited and have had a lot of fun with the release of this book, and it's premise. While the staff isn't as "colorful" as the one in the book, they do share the same desire to teach what they know.
Hopefully there will be more "happenings" from Heck to share with my staff and students at Heck.

Kevin Sotomayor
Principal, Heck Middle School
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(10 of 19 readers found this comment helpful)
aleecat, July 28, 2008 (view all comments by aleecat)
This is a great book! The sly attacks on society and the great use of historical characters make it fun for adults and spurs great conversation between kids and parents. My daughter is in the midst of reading it and she is thoroughly enjoying it. Next summer is a long time to wait for the next book!
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(19 of 29 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780375840753
Author:
Basye, Dale E.
Publisher:
Random House Books for Young Readers
Illustrator:
Dob, Bob
Author:
Dale E. Basye
Author:
illustrated by Bob Dob
Author:
illustrated by Bob Dob
Author:
Dob, Bob
Author:
Dale E. Basye
Subject:
Horror & Ghost Stories
Subject:
Schools
Subject:
Brothers and sisters
Subject:
Humorous Stories
Subject:
School & Education
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Cloth
Series:
Circles of Heck
Series Volume:
01
Publication Date:
July 2008
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
from 4 up to 8
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8.61 x 5.8 x 1.05 in .9 lb
Age Level:
09-12

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Related Subjects

Children's » Middle Readers » General
Children's » Science Fiction and Fantasy » General

Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.95 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Random House Books for Young Readers - English 9780375840753 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

In this fun read about a reform school where "darned" kids go until they turn 18, two great characters plan their escape from Bea "Elsa" Bubb, the Principal of Darkness. Tweens will love the clever wordplay and smattering of gross humor.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In his uproarious send-up of all things purgatorial, debut novelist Basye gives readers a new lease on afterlifes. Milton, a blameless 11-year-old bookworm, and his 'blue-haired, thirteen-going-on-thirty-year-old' sister, Marlo, are at the Mall of Generica (in Generica, Kans.), when they meet their demise in a ludicrous accident (Milton's nemesis plants a stick of dynamite in a 20-foot-tall statue made from marshmallow: 'Smoke, noise, and burning marshmallow fused together to create a sickeningly sweet moment, one that was both ridiculously tragic and tragically ridiculous'). Unfortunately, Marlo has been shoplifting and stashed her goods in Milton's gear, so both get sent to Heck — a hell for the under-18 demographic. Never mind that Milton is technically innocent: 'The devil's in the details,' snaps Heck's principal, Bea 'Elsa' Bubb. After a series of ill-fated yet deliciously documented attempts to escape, one sibling succeeds in returning from the Underworld, but the finale is almost beside the point. The author's umpteen clever allusions — characters' eternal fates are decided by standardized 'Soul Aptitude Tests'; Mr. R. Nixon teaches ethics to evildoers in room 1972 — make this book truly sparkle. Ages 9 — 12. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Humorous chapter titles, sly banter between characters and a richly imagined world ought to make this a hit for the intended audience. In tribute to old Blackbeard, who puts the 'scurvy dogs' to work in one scene, rate this 'Arrrrrgh.'"
"Synopsis" by , After Milton and Marlo Fauster die in a marshmallow bear explosion, they are sent straight to Heck, an otherworldly reform school. Milton can understand why his kleptomaniac sister is here, but Milton is — or was — a model citizen. Has a mistake been made?
"Synopsis" by , WHEN MILTON AND Marlo Fauster die in a marshmallow bear explosion, they get sent straight to Heck, an otherworldly reform school. Milton can understand why his kleptomaniac sister is here, but Milton is—or was—a model citizen. Has a mistake been made? Not according to Bea “Elsa” Bubb, the Principal of Darkness. She doesnt make mistakes. She personally sees to it that Heck—whether it be home-ec class with Lizzie Borden, ethics with Richard Nixon, or gym with Blackbeard the Pirate—is especially, well, heckish for the Fausters. Will Milton and Marlo find a way to escape? Or are they stuck here for all eternity, or until they turn 18, whichever comes first?
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