Summer break is winding down, and the last thing you want to think about is the dreaded first day of school. Instead of the beach, endless hours of freedom, and crazy adventures, you're stuck with homework, boring teachers, and picking fights with the school bully. All of this can only be worse if you're at a brand new school where you feel lost, friendless and hopeless. For Artie Howard, this is just the beginning of a nightmare that he will have to live over and over again.
The morning on the first day of school couldn't go any worse for Artie. He bangs his head after falling out of bed, drips syrup all over his hair and t-shirt, and looks like he peed his pants after getting splashed by a truck while walking to school. When he finally makes it to school, his dog tackles the principal, he hits the most popular kid, Brick, in the back of the head with a baseball, and ends up in the wrong classroom. As if that wasn't enough, he flings the class scorpion out of the window, discovers a scary basement room filled with corpses, and manages to offend the most beautiful girl in the world. The only thing Artie wants is for this horrible day to end.
The first day of school --- take two. Artie bangs his head after falling out of bed and proceeds to have an argument about whether or not it's the first day of school with his mother. He watches in disbelief as syrup is splattered all over his t-shirt and hair. He desperately tries to avoid getting splashed by the truck, but still manages to look like he peed his pants. His dog attacks the principal, the most popular kid in school, Brick, is still injured by a baseball, and, well, you see the pattern developing. Despite his best efforts, Artie's first day of school is nightmarish all over again.
The first day of school --- take three. After banging his head in the morning and arguing with his mother about whether or not it's the first day of school, Artie is determined not to make the same mistakes. No matter how hard he tries, though, he can't stop the horrible chain of events that is now his life. After his dog rips off the principal's hand and drags around the bloody appendage, Artie realizes something is much worse about his third first day of school. It's about to get even weirder, and there's nothing Artie can do to stop it!
We've all had nightmares about the first day of school and all the horrible things that can go wrong. In my dreams I usually forget to wear my pants, leave all my school supplies at home, and end up getting on the bad side of the teacher. The good news is that we all eventually wake up, relieved that none of it is true. The masterful --- and scary --- R.L. Stine plays off of these fears and makes them come to life. Poor Artie Howard. The kid just can't catch a break. By the time you're done reading, you'll be glad that it's him instead of you.
--- Reviewed by Benjamin Boche