I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Curse of the Were-Hyena (A Monstertown Mystery) by Bruce Hale
Published by Disney-Hyperion on July 5th 2016
What do you do when your favorite teacher starts turning into a were-hyena?
a) Flee in terror? b) Try to cure him? c) Bring him carrion snacks?
Mr. Chu, the coolest teacher ever, has developed some very unusual habits, like laughing hysterically for no reason, sniffing people's homework, and chasing chickens. When best friends Carlos and Benny decide to find out what's happening to him, they get caught up in some moonlight madness. And it looks like just the beginning of the weirdness that has arrived in the town of Monterrosa. . . . This first entry in a silly, sassy, and suspenseful new series will leave readers howling with laughter.
I’m so happy to be apart of this fun blog tour for a new series that kids are sure to love, especially with Halloween around the corner! This post includes a short review, guest post by the author and information on the giveaway!
Here’s a little bit on what I thought of the book!
The Curse of the Were-Hyena is a fun middle grade adventure about two boys who find out there is something wrong with their teacher Mr. Chu. They find out it’s something more than normal, in fact downright supernatural. They decide they must save their teacher from becoming a Were-Hyena! I loved that this was a funny book, with a mix of culturally diverse main characters and a fun plot as well. Each character brought something different to their group and helped save the day. I absolutely love stories about reluctant heroes rising to the occasion and am looking forward to more of this series!
Bruce was kind enough to write up how he chose to write about Were-Hyenas! Read below for where he came up with his ideas!
How to pick a monster?
My newest book didn’t start out as a celebration of were-hyenas. In fact, it began as a tribute to a book I did in second grade. Back then, as an enthusiastic fan of all the Universal monster movies (Frankenstein, The Wolf-Man, et. al.), I had illustrated a tale on cardboard and paper. I called it The Two Brothers In Monstertown, and never mind that I taped the book together on the wrong side; it was a masterpiece. (At least that’s what my mom said.)
Several times as an adult, I tried turning that childhood inspiration into a rhyming picture book incorporating all those Universal monsters, but it never quite gelled. Finally, serendipity took a hand. After one of my author presentations at a Central California school, a student suggested turning my idea into a series about two boys solving monster-related mysteries. Bingo. At last I had the right form.
But the first book wasn’t quite ready to be birthed. When I proposed the series to Stephanie Lurie, my savvy editor at Hyperion, she looked over my list of monsters —Wolf-Man, Frankenstein, Creature From the Black Lagoon — and said, “Meh.” Why not, she suggested, come up with completely new creatures that nobody had written about before?
To be honest, I’d been so focused on my childhood creature-feature loves that I hadn’t even considered this notion. So I mulled it over. I began by consulting the lazy author’s favorite research tool, Wikipedia. Here, I discovered legends of were-creatures from all over the planet. There were were-panthers, were-sharks, were-bears, and even a were-car (from Futurama).
After much deliberation, I narrowed it down. Tempted though I was by the were-sharks, I couldn’t see a way to make them work in a land-based school setting. But a were-hyena? That sent creepy chills up my spine, and it’d work well on land.
I settled on the were-hyena for the first book as a perfect stand-in for the classic shape-shifting werewolf. But I still needed two more monsters for Books 2 and 3. Remembering those giant bug movies of the ‘50s, like Them!, I decided to turn the lunch ladies into giant praying mantises (mantii?) for Book 2. And for Book 3, I chose a mad scientist mash-up, combining an apex predator with a creepy bug —hence, the scorp-lion.
I hope that my new monsters will prove just as unsettling for kids as the classic Universal monsters were for me. And who knows? If I did it right, I just may help inspire the next generation of monster makers.
Thanks Bruce, I can’t wait to read more in this series and my students love a good monster!
Edgar-nominated author Bruce Hale is passionate about inspiring reluctant readers to read. He has written or illustrated more than 35 seriously funny books for children, including the popular School for S.P.I.E.S. and Chet Gecko Mysteries series; as well as picture books such as Clark the Shark, Snoring Beauty, and Big Bad Baby. An actor and a Fulbright Scholar in Storytelling, Bruce is in demand as a speaker, having presented at conferences, universities, and schools around the world. Bruce’s book The Malted Falcon was an Edgar Award Finalist and Murder, My Tweet won the Little D Award for Humor Writing. He lives in Santa Barbara, California with his wife and dog. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook