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Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom

Cover of Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom

Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom

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"Such deliciously creepy fun! I fell in love with Dr. Fell!" —Chris Grabenstein, New York Times bestselling author of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library

When the mysterious Dr. Fell moves into the abandoned house that had once been the neighborhood kids' hangout, he immediately builds a playground to win them over. But as the ever-changing play space becomes bigger and more elaborate, the children and their parents fall deeper under the doctor's spell.

Only Jerry, Nancy, and Gail are immune to the lure of his extravagant wonderland. And they alone notice that when the injuries begin to pile up on the jungle gym, somehow Dr. Fell is able to heal each one with miraculous speed. Now the three children must find a way to uncover the doctor's secret power without being captivated by his trickery.
"Deliciously dark, funny, and foreboding, Neilsen's first novel delivers with broad appeal." —Booklist
"Recommended for school libraries that need to breathe life into their traditional mystery collections." —School Library Journal
From the Hardcover edition.
"Such deliciously creepy fun! I fell in love with Dr. Fell!" —Chris Grabenstein, New York Times bestselling author of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library

When the mysterious Dr. Fell moves into the abandoned house that had once been the neighborhood kids' hangout, he immediately builds a playground to win them over. But as the ever-changing play space becomes bigger and more elaborate, the children and their parents fall deeper under the doctor's spell.

Only Jerry, Nancy, and Gail are immune to the lure of his extravagant wonderland. And they alone notice that when the injuries begin to pile up on the jungle gym, somehow Dr. Fell is able to heal each one with miraculous speed. Now the three children must find a way to uncover the doctor's secret power without being captivated by his trickery.
"Deliciously dark, funny, and foreboding, Neilsen's first novel delivers with broad appeal." —Booklist
"Recommended for school libraries that need to breathe life into their traditional mystery collections." —School Library Journal
From the Hardcover edition.
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Excerpts-
  • From the cover

    Chapter 1

    The Arrival of Dr. Fell

    The large brick house at the end of Hardscrabble Street had been empty for a generation. During that time it had been a royal castle, a haunted ruin, an alien spaceship, and anything else the children of the neighborhood wanted it to be.

    Lindsey Brackentwig said the last people to live in the house had been a family of circus performers who had practiced their skills on the abnormally flat roof. Josh Gallowsbee said they had been three witches who had stirred magic potions in the enormous bathtub on the second floor. Hannah Festerworth said they had been the parents of a young boy whom they kept locked away in the unfinished basement.

    Every child had a story about the house, each wilder than the last. It was a house of imagination, a blank canvas just waiting to be painted with the gleeful brushstrokes of youth. Every parent in the neighborhood had forbidden their children from entering the house, and every parent in the neighborhood knew full well their children were disobeying them.

    But when local real estate agent Dorothy Canvaswalter placed a Sold banner atop the aged, weather-beaten For Sale sign that had stood sentry on the front lawn for years, even the parents were disappointed.

    "It's like the heart of the neighborhood is being ripped right out," said PTA Co-President Candice Gloomfellow.

    "I still remember when little Johnny broke his arm falling down those rickety stairs," agreed PTA Co-President Martha Doomburg with a wistful tear in her eye.

    Every adult on Hardscrabble Street, as well as all those on nearby Vexington Avenue and Von Burden Lane, and nearly all on Turnabout Road (Old Lady Witherton could not be bothered), wondered about the new owners. Would they be a tidy family? Would they be a handy family? Would they be a noisy family?

    The children of Hardscrabble Street, Vexington Avenue, Von Burden Lane, and Turnabout Road did not wonder about the new owners. As word spread of the sale, they gathered in twos and threes to stand in front of their magnificent former playhouse and sigh, pout, even weep. Some felt childhood was over. Others felt they had lost their best friend. All felt mildly resentful of the sale and were determined to dislike whoever ultimately moved in, no matter what.

    "Why would anyone buy that house?" asked ten-year-old Gail Bloom, staring longingly at a second-floor balcony on which she'd fenced the imaginary-yet-dastardly Lord Dunderhead only days before.

    "Maybe they've got kids," answered her eight-year-old brother, Jerry, with his rose-colored viewpoint, eyeing the flat roof where only last week he'd set up his slot-car track and raced the cars wildly in circles for hours on end. "This is a good neighborhood for kids."

    "But it's our place," complained Gail's best friend and Jerry's worst nightmare, ten-year-old Nancy Pinkblossom, imagining the infamous Stairway of Death down which she'd tumbled each and every one of her Pretty Patty dress-up dolls. "Who said they could just come and take it away from us?"

    The three children stood in place a moment more on that warm spring Saturday morning—each gathering and storing away an admittedly short lifetime's worth of memories. Finally, at some unspoken signal, they turned away almost in unison.

    "What should we do today?" asked Gail.

    "We could go to the river," answered Jerry, referring to the tiny trickle of a stream that snaked behind Hardscrabble Street. "There's lots to do near the river."

    "She wasn't asking you,...

About the Author-
  • David Neilsen is a classically trained actor/storyteller, a journalist, and a theater/improvisation teacher for children and adults. During the Halloween season, David can be found telling spooky tales to audiences of all ages, or performing one of his one-man shows based on the stories of horror author H. P. Lovecraft. David lives in New York with his family. David's next middle grade novel, Beyond the Doors, will be published in Summer 2017. Visit him at david-neilsen.com.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 22, 2016
    Ever since Dr. Fell moved into the abandoned house at the end of Hardscrabble Street, things haven't seemed right to 10-year-old Gail Bloom; her younger brother, Jerry; and her best friend, Nancy Pinkblossom. The rest of the town, however, seems hypnotized by the hunched old man: kids flock to the doctor's spectacular playground, and parents are delighted by his offer of cheap physicals and ability to heal the increasingly serious injuries that occur on his playground. When Gail appears to be brainwashed following an exam with Dr. Fell, Nancy and Jerry team up to save her and the town. The doctor's verbosity ("Shouldn't you three be running amok within and throughout my magnanimous neighborhood donation?") should give readers' vocabularies a boost, but comes across like a forced quirk; determined though they are, Gail, Jerry, and Nancy never wind up the most captivating of heroes. Terry's spot illustrations, not all seen by PW, help establish an atmosphere of dreamlike strangeness, complementing the creepy threads of medical and supernatural horror Neilsen weaves through his debut novel. Ages 8–12. Author's agent: Eric Myers, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.

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Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom
Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom
David Neilsen
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