Young Scrooge: A Very Scary Christmas Story

192p. Feiwel & Friends. Sept. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250070159.
Gr 4–7—Rick Scroogeman is a pathological bully, enjoying the harmful pranks he pulls on one and all. He has no clue that the "fun" he inflicts makes him the most hated kid in middle school. That is, until he is forced to see the error of his ways by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. At first, Rick makes light of being the target of bullies in the 1800s and the hardship of a modern family, but when he witnesses his schoolmates' disdain, he finally starts to get the message. However, Future Ghost hammers it home by dropping Rick off at Dead Middle School, where the zombie students try to pull him into his own grave. Scared straight, Rick does some good deeds and claims to be happier now that he's a good guy…although he still pulls a mean prank to end the book. Mild horror situations like zombie students and walking snowmen do not redeem the self-centered first-person narrative of this modern-day Christmas Carol.
VERDICT Stine certainly has fans, but this labored effort is not his best and, honestly, the first 50 pages, in which Rick brags about his mean antics, are more horrifying than the ghosts and zombies. Not recommended.

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