#939 – Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom by David Neilsen: Book Tour

drfell-cover Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom
Written by David Neilsen
Illustrated by Will Terry
Crown Books for Young Readers   8/09/2016
240 pages    Ages 8—12

“Jerry, Nancy, and Gail didn’t know the power Dr. Fell would have over their small town. All they know is their favorite play spot—the abandoned house down the road—is now his home. But within a day of moving in, Dr. Fell has a playground built in his front yard for the neighborhood kids. It is the greatest jungle gym and boy or girl on Hardscrabble Street has ever seen!

“Soon the play area is covered with a layer of children at all times, and they seem to be falling deeper under D. Fell’s spell. Only Jerry, Nancy, and Gail are immune to his brainwashing and the pull of his extravagant wonderland. But then the injuries begin to pile up on the playground, and somehow Dr. Fell is able to heal each one with miraculous speed.

“Now the three children must find a way to uncover the creepy doctor’s secret power without being captivated by his trickery.” [back cover]

The Story
An old abandoned house, more of a mansion really, sits at the end of Hardscrabble Street. The neighborhood kids use the rundown place as an unofficial playground. But then, seemingly out of nowhere, someone buys the place. Dr. Fell, an older-than-old, brittle-bone, eccentric man moves in. Van after van after van unloads odd boxes and crates. Everyone is captivated. Everyone except Nancy Pinkblossom and (sister and younger-brother) Gail and Jerry Bloom. They had met Dr. Fell as he walked to his new home. It was a polite but odd meeting and the three kids went away feeling uncomfortable and, with their hair standing on end, more than a bit creepy.

The day after the parade of vans, a strange, humongous play structure appears in Dr. Fell’s front yard. His way of replacing the playground and making amends. This is what he tells the kids. Everyone is elated. Children from several neighborhoods scramble to the playground. Night and day kids play out their fantasies on Dr. Fell’s playground. Parents are pleased and encourage their children to participate. Dr. Fell becomes the go to expert on children and children’s illness and injury, he also happens to recommend the best personal injury law firm in case of any injuries caused by a third person. But is Dr. Fell really a doctor?

Children begin falling from the tall rock climbing wall or slip off a rope, hurting themselves. Dr. Fell graciously takes care of the stricken children, mending their hurts in what seems unusually fast. Bolstered by Dr. Fell’s healing powers, kids begin taking bigger and bolder risks, causing increasingly complicated injuries. No one wonders, worries, or queries the good doc. No one except Nancy, Gail, and Jerry.

Gail, Nancy, and Jerry find themselves immune to Dr. Fell’s hold. They know there is something odd about the good doctor. He entered town a frail, brittle old man and now stands straighter and seems stronger. The three kids decide to find out what is going on and then decide to stop Dr. Fell and his stronghold on the town. How does his playground magnetize the kids? Why are parents so eager for their children to play on the ever-growing dangerous structure? And what is that . . .

drfell-3 ChapterReview
Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom is a different type of magical fantasy. The well-written story captivated me from the first page. It is creepy, yet not nightmare inducing. The plot is devious, with twists and turns to confuse and delight readers. We will root for the three heroes-to-be, yet hope—just a little—that Dr. Fell will win. He not only captures the town and Hardscrabble Street in his mysterious net, but also the reader. Dr. Fell’s big flaw is his dated language, which needs translated for the kids. At first amusing, Dr. Fell’s translations grow weary over time.

Will Terry’s black and white illustrations complement and enhance the story of Dr. Fell and the characters, especially Nancy, Gail, and Jerry. Terry visually brings Dr. Fell’s playground to life, which seems a near impossible accomplishment. Wonderful images.

Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom may be one of the strangest stores of the year. Dr. Fell’s delicious strangeness will appeal to young readers (and adults who treasure the magnificence of middle grade novels). The story will confuse you and keep you on edge. Pages will fly by as you read and delight in this magical mystery. This weirdly enchanted gem is perfect for this age group. Kids will want to keep reading, will want to explore the playground and the mansion, and know whom Dr. Fell really is and how he gets away with his brand of magic. Yet, no matter how many pages kids read before falling asleep, Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom will not cause dreadful dreams.

I sincerely hope Dr. Fell returns to stranglehold another town. The ending is quite satisfying and seriously strange. Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom is spellbinding mystery at its best. While I never want to meet a Dr. Fell in person, I would love to read about more of his exploits. Dr. Fell, his mayhem of a mansion, his dreadful devices, and his mysterious medical prowess demand a series. There simply must be more of this well-told and written craziness to capture kids’ imaginations. Keep an eye out for David Neilsen. If all of his stories enchant readers as Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom does, he will become a much-loved children’s author.

Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom is David Neilsen’s first middle grade novel.

DR. FELL AND THE PLAYGROUND OF DOOM. Text copyright © 2016 by David Neilsen. Illustrations copyright © 2016 by Will Terry. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Crown Books for Young Readers, New York, NY.

AmazonIndie BooksApple BooksCrown BYR
Also availabe as an audiobook.

Find Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom on Goodreads HERE.

David Neilsen:  https://david-neilsen.com/
Follow on Twitter          @MrDavidNeilsen

Will Terry:  http://willterry.com/
Follow on Twitter          @willterry333

Crown BYR:  http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/imprints/crown-books-young-readers
Follow on Twitter          @randomhousekids

Crown Books for Young Readers is an imprint of Random House Children’s Books.

Reprinted with permission from DR. FELL AND THE PLAYGROUND OF DOOM © 2016 by David Neilsen, Crown BYR, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, Illustrations © 2016 by Will Terry.

We hope you’re enjoying the blog tour for David Neilsen’s Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom! In case you missed yesterday’s post, head over to YA Books Central to check it out. The tour continues tomorrow on Book Blather.  

Find the entire Dr. Fell Book Blog Tour HERE!

Copyright © 2016 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom
Written by David Neilsen
Illustrated by Will Terry
Crown Books for Young Readers 8/09/2016


7 thoughts on “#939 – Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom by David Neilsen: Book Tour

  1. I have to tell you, Sue—I’m VERY intrigued! I want to know what’s behind his spooky shenanigans too! 🙂 And the cover and illustration or so beautiful!


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