Books for Ages 8-10: Notes from a Hairy-Not-Scary Werewolf by Tim Collins

Books for Ages 8-10: Notes from a Hairy-not-scary Werewolf
Tim Collins
2011. New York, NY: Aladdin.
ISBN 9781442482074
288 pages.

If you enjoy the goofy diary format of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but wish that the action was more intense and maybe involved more nighttime transformations, cannibalistic instincts, and consumption of raw meat, this book about monster puberty may be for you. Alternately, if you are between the ages of eight and twelve and have been keening for a book about monsters and death but your parents are concerned about your consumption of fictional violence, consider: this book is so thoroughly silly  that your parents are likely to find it appropriate and amusing, but it still has plenty of truly scary concepts and scenes that will whet your appetite for Halloween themes.

       Fourteen-year-old Luke Thorpe (a play by the author on the term lycanthrope, a word for werewolves) is by any account a totally insufferable dude. He’s a member of the debate society, is super smug about his grades, and way too enthusiastic about his job as hall monitor. He writes about what other kids do wrong every day in his journal. But that changes when he’s attacked by what seems to be a rabid dog. Suddenly, Luke starts feeling his spine pop and stretch into a tail in class, sees hair growing unpredictably from his knuckles, and feels a ravenous desire to eat roadkill or rip out throats when he is stressed or panicked. If you think this sounds like a metaphor for puberty, and all the things you learned or are learning in a mortifying sex ed class, you’re right–but that’s just the start.
       Luke is tapped to join a society of werewolves, run by Ryan, a slightly creepy, very buff twentysomething who Luke isn’t at all sure he can trust (especially when Ryan locks Luke up in his basement in order to scare him into transforming). Ryan tells Luke that he’s an alpha wolf, meaning he can transform at any time, not just the full moon. Even worse, Ryan wants Luke to help in the werewolf clan’s battle against some vampires that have stolen an island Ryan thinks belong to the wolves. In the meantime, Luke accompanies the pack as they run around in the night on full moons eating sheep. Luke doesn’t know if there’s a way out of his future as a delinquent mutton thief–until he meets another wolf who also distrusts Ryan, and they hatch a plan to try to stop the war. In the process, Luke learns a lot about how to communicate with people and be a little less obnoxious.
While there’s lots of slapstick (such as Luke getting scared at an amusement park and transforming on a roller coaster, popping out of his safety lock and sailing into the sky), there is also actual bloodshed in this book.  If you’re interested in books about werewolves, vampires and zombies that have a hint of the ridiculous about them (such as Darren Shan’s Cirque du Freak), then this nerdy ginger monster narrative may be something to check out.

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