Monday, 19 April 2010
Review: The Scream Street series by Tommy Donbavand
After Luke Watson transforms into a werewolf for the third time, he and his parents are moved by the Government Housing of Unusual Lifeforms (G.H.O.U.L.) to Scream Street – a community of vampires, zombies, witches and more. In Scream Street, Luke and his parents discover a nightmarish world of the undead. Luke soon makes friends with vampire Resus Negative and mummy Cleo Farr, but he remains determined to take his terrified parents home. After liberating the powerful book Tales of Scream Street from his new landlord, Otto Sneer, Luke learns that the founding fathers of the community each left behind a powerful relic. Collecting together all six is his only hope of opening a doorway out of the street, so with the help of Resus and Cleo he sets out to find the first one, the vampire’s fang. But with Otto Sneer determined to thwart him at every turn, will Luke even get past the first hurdle alive?
Do you have children under the age of 10? If so, have they read any of Tommy Donbavand's Scream Street books yet? If the answer is yes to both of these questions then you will already know how good they are. If your answer is yes to the first question, but no to the second, then you really must try to get your hands on these. Kids love horror stories, the past success of the Goosebumps books are testament to this, and the Scream Street books are a perfect introduction to this horror genre for younger readers. They feature classic characters of the genre including vampires, werewolves, mummies and zombies, and with a heavy dose of Tommy's sparkling humour they do so in a way that is far from scary. I know a six year old boy who reads these with his parents at bed time and there are smiles all round.
Tommy Donbavand has an incredible and hilarious imagination; in these books he has delved into the most famous of the classic horror stories and used elements from them to create a new and original series that is perfect for the under 10s. There have been similar books in the past, Anthony Horowitz's Groosham Grange being an obvious example, but in my opinion Scream Street beats Mr H's ghoulish school hands down, and the principle reason for this is the fascinating array of characters that Mr Donbavand has created. Aside from main character Luke, we have the wonderfully names Resus Negative, the normal son of vampiric parents - as a wannabe vampire the lengths he goes to in order to fit in with popular image of a vampire are laugh out loud funny. Making up the trio of friends is Cleo, the ancient Egyptian mummy - a lot of rather nasty things eem to happen to Cleo, but it is ok as she is already dead and her vital organs are stored in jars. Of course, all of these characters have parents, each of whom bring many comic elements to the stories. However, my personal favourite is Doug the zombie. All I will say about Doug is that his character is based heavily on a stereotypical surf dude - now your imaginations can do the rest.
Tommy Donbavand is assisted in his work by the delightful illustrations of Lily Bernard. Younger kids love illustrations in their books - it helps them to visualise the characters and make the story even more fun to read. Ms Bernard's images capture the comic elements of Tommy's writing perfectly, and I mean no disrepect to Mr Donbavand when I say that the books would be very different without them. Think of Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake - Mr Dahl's books are obviously fantastic without illustrations, but Mr Blake's images are the icing on an already perfect cake. This is how I feel about the Donbavand/Bernard partnership.
There are currently seven books published by Walker Books in the Scream Street series, with the eighth, Attack of the Trolls, scheduled to be released on 4th May 2010, and a total of thirteen books planned overall. So far I have only read the first four books in the series but my godsons have told me the next three are just as good, if not better. You can get a good feel for Tommy's sense of humour by watching some of his homemade book trailer videos that I have included for you at the end of this post. Tommy has also written a book called Zombie! for Barrington Stoke, which I believe will be released as an audio book sometime in the future (read by none other than the author himself).