“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
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.