Parents, have you ever thought to yourself, “When will I be able to share my love of bizarre, gory sci-fi horror b-movies with my child?” Has your kid ever picked up David Lubar’s “Campfire Weenies” series and said, “Man, it just ISN’T WEIRD ENOUGH!” Does your tween love Stranger Things but wish it had a lot more “WHAT THE FUCK?”
My friends, do I have the book for you!
I’m a huge fan of Nathan Hale’s “Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales” series, which is a graphic nonfiction series about American History. It covers mostly war-related stuff, especially getting into how technology has changed warfare, but it also covers The Donner Party, The Alamo, and an AMAZING biography of Harriet Tubman with a cover that looks like a Tarantino biopic and includes a mini-comic about Frederick Douglas beating the shit out of four racist sailors single-handedly so in other words it sort of IS a Tarantino bio pic, but for kids. Recently he has strayed from recounting history into science fiction. I haven’t picked up One Trick Pony but it was well-reviewed.
A friend works at Amulet and gave me a ton of ARCs to give out for summer reading prizes, and she pulled this out and told me “THIS WAS TERRIFYING AND GAVE ME NIGHTMARES” as if I WOULDN’T want to read a children’s graphic novel horror set in a taco shop. I had to move it to the top of my reading list!
The story opens at a high-school lock-in for the drama club, where they are aiming to finish the sets and lights for their upcoming production of Brigadoon in the wee hours. The drama teacher has her two middle-school kids in tow, and she sends them out with one of her seniors for a food run around midnight. They wind up at Taco Bear, a fast-food eatery, and while it does appear to be one of the few spots open, things seem a little weird as they pull thru the drive-thru. They leave with their tacos and nachos, but before they can get back to the school, the tacos begin transforming into tentacled monsters! And when they escape back to the school, they find themselves at a sort of shadow-version of the middle school, where rehearsal is still going on — and they are even there, a part of it! But the copies of themselves and the school are terribly off — and terribly monstrous.
That’s about all I feel like going into because I truly feel one has to experience this book for themselves to fully appreciate it. I did not grow up a fan of B-movie horror, so I actually don’t know much about it. But this book struck me as the perfect primer for that sort of thing (and reading reviews after pretty much confirmed that theory). Hale has somehow managed to create a super-disgusting, mind-bogglingly weird horror that is also tween friendly. Don’t get me wrong – it’s for a very specific type of kid. The type with a strong stomach and twisted sense of humor. Not your casual Goosebumps fan, dear reader. It features human teeth and cannibalism, animated human limbs, and a lot of gross mysterious waxy goo. But it’s also pretty funny.
I think it’s pretty great, but I also really like weird books. If you and/or your kid also like weird books with a horror bend, definitely pick this one up! I am not sure if fans of Hale’s historical series will automatically like it, though. It’s VERY different, other than his distinctive art stylings.