Upcoming seventh grader Robert Arthur, protagonist of the Tales from Lovecraft Middle School series, is nervous and lonely. As far as he knows, he’s the only student from his old elementary school sent to the new, state-of-the-art middle school. Without friends to share the experience with, Arthur isn’t excited about the fact that Lovecraft had a huge pool and other state of the arts amenities.
His luck goes from bad to worse when, on the first day of school, he realizes that he isn’t the only student from his old school after all. He spies his nemesis, Glenn Torkells, a few bleachers up from where he’s sitting.
But what Arthur doesn’t know is that Glenn’s bullying will be the least of his concerns. Attending Lovecraft turns out to be arduous, even life-threatening.
The Tales from Lovecraft series consists of four books (here, here, here, and here) written by Charles Gilman, and illustrated by Eugene Smith. Each of the outside covers is a cleverly designed hologram, which gives readers a clue to the story within. People walking by my desk reacted to all the covers with a “creepy” or “cool.” It’s written for sixth through eighth graders, who will, likewise, get either a kick or shiver out of the series.
In the backstory to the series is a power-hungry evil physicist who wants to control the human race. To achieve his goal, he creates demons and monsters to do his bidding, and a ghost that yearns to be normal.
In the first two books, the main evil characters remind me of Greek mythological monsters—the third, Teacher’s Pest, is a human-size fly.
Both Gilman and Smith know their craft and audience. While well written and entertaining, Lovecraft isn’t an original story. However, it is one where good triumphs over evil.
A lesson readers learn is that our physical reality, the one we can see and feel, isn’t the only reality. There is a spiritual dimension as well—one where some really bad things can happen.
It’s a fun little series where good overcomes evil, but it would have been much, much better if Arthur had called on God to help him in his fight against pure evil. Lovecraft might be a good series to use as a springboard for a bigger discussion on the reality of supernatural evil, and how, with God’s help—and only with God’s help—we can work to vanquish evil.
Lovecraft illustrates that heroism is not just for the strong and savvy. Through its main character, Arthur, readers learn that regardless of being afraid, you still have the responsibility to do the right thing. Acts of courage like Arthur’s, in fact, are the stuff of which legends are made.
Image copyright Quirk Books.
Kim Moreland is the managing editor for the Colson Center, manages the Colson Center Library, is a research associate for BreakPoint, and writes feature articles and blog posts for BreakPoint.
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