Authors: Gitty Daneshvari
Text copyright © 2010 by Cat on a Leash, Inc.
Illustrations copyright © 2010 by Carrie Gifford
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Little, Brown and Company
Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Visit our website at
Little, Brown and Company is a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
The Little, Brown name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
First eBook Edition: September 2010
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
For Sophia Coco
The wilderness outside Farmington, Massachusetts
(Exact location withheld for security purposes)
Direct all correspondence to: PO Box 333, Farmington, MA 01201
Much like homework, pimples, and puberty, your second summer at School of Fear is not optional. Any acts of insubordination
such as claiming death of a beloved pet, amnesia, or enrollment in sleepaway camp will be met by my lawyer Munchauser—quite
literally. The man with the dirtiest fingernails in all of America shall arrive at your home with dental floss in hand. Munchauser,
who has only thrice been to a dentist, shall then proceed to floss his small yellow teeth mere inches from your face. This
is an act from which you will not recover.
The summer course shall begin promptly at 9:00
on Saturday May 29th at the base of Summerstone. And do remember to guard School of Fear’s anonymity by running the bath,
blaring the television, and playing the harmonica whenever discussing our institution. On behalf of myself, my comb-over-clad
assistant Schmidty, Macaroni the bulldog, and my highly trained cats, we look forward to seeing all of your Vaseline-coated
smiles terribly soon.
Headmistress, School of Fear
49-Time Pageant Winner
P.S. Munchauser is not the slightest bit interested in seeing any of you again, and requested that I tell you all as much.
he sun is not the sun. And that isn’t to say that the sun is the moon, for that is most definitely not the case. The sun is
simply far more than the center of the solar system or a bright shiny thing in the sky. Day after day the sun wrestles us
from darkness, bringing with it the many secrets we hide from others and occasionally even ourselves. Oh yes, the sun is the
guardian of truth, whether we like it or not.
Thirteen-year-old Madeleine Masterson breezed into
Boston, utterly delighted to have escaped the dreary skies of London. With a beaming smile the fair-skinned, blue-eyed girl
with raven locks just shy of her shoulders led her parents into the blazing heat and humidity. The entire Masterson family
stood outside warming their chilly British bones in the extraordinary sunshine. For the English, the sun is a bit like the
Queen; they know she exists but they simply don’t see her that often.
Only a year earlier, Madeleine had been a shell of her current self, walking through life in abject terror, certain that enemies
lurked around every corner, or rather
every corner. Mr. and Mrs. Masterson’s only child had long suffered from a dreadful phobia of spiders and other insects.
In addition to wearing a netted veil and a belt of repellents at all times, Madeleine had refused to enter any building that
had not been fumigated recently by an exterminator. As one might imagine, most of her classmates’ parents refused to meet
the extensive and expensive guidelines necessary before Madeleine could enter their residences. Thus Madeleine missed out
on slumber parties, birthdays, and all outdoor activities.
Most fortunately for all involved, Madeleine had spent the previous summer at the highly clandestine,
word-of-mouth institution known as School of Fear. Much to her parents’ delight, Madeleine had returned veil- and repellent-free,
an absolutely changed child. Well, not entirely changed; the young girl remained fascinated by world leaders, often listing
United Nations delegates in alphabetical order for entertainment. But long gone was her crippling arachnophobia.
“Mummy and Daddy, not to be impertinent, but why are you sending me back for another summer? I’m cured, fixed, or however
you care to put it. Might I remind you that I am now a member of the Spider Appreciation Club as well as Eight-Legged Creatures
for Social Change?”
“Yes, we know, dear. Your father and I are both terribly impressed with your progress,” Mrs. Masterson said with a smile.
“Aren’t you the only member of those clubs?” Mr. Masterson inquired.
“That is hardly the point, Daddy,” Madeleine replied huffily.
“Unfortunately, as we’ve explained, it’s a contractual issue. Mrs. Wellington’s attorney, that ghastly man Munchauser, had
us sign a two-summer agreement. He
claims the second session is necessary to reinforce the progress you made last summer. But not to worry, dear. Next summer
you will be free to do anything you like.”
“Well, I suppose another summer won’t hurt me too badly. Plus I am terribly keen to see the others again and have a proper
catch-up,” Madeleine acquiesced as the town car turned onto a narrow cobblestone road. Within seconds the car was shrouded
in darkness cast by the trees and sticky vines that grew from one side of the road to the other, creating a tunnel. Although
hard to decipher in the faint light, a multitude of homemade signs warned against entering the Lost Forest. The densely wooded
area had quite the reputation for chewing people up and
spitting them out.
The car slowed as the foliage tunnel opened at the base of a large granite mountain. Mr. and Mrs. Masterson had planned to
exit the vehicle and meet this Schmidty character they had heard so much about. However, the soaring temperatures quickly
dissuaded the London natives from leaving the air-conditioned confines of their car. Sporting an orange tartan dress
with a matching headband and a massive grin, Madeleine bounded out of the sedan. Technically speaking, it was more of a saunter
than a bound, due to the blistering weather. Madeleine was beginning to understand what people meant by too much of a good
Seated on lawn chairs under a large umbrella were Schmidty, School of Fear’s trusty cook/groundskeeper/wig groomer, and Macaroni,
the English bulldog.
“Schmidty!” Madeleine yelped joyfully, before stopping. The young girl was utterly gobsmacked and unable to speak. The plump
old man was dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, polyester black shorts, and open-toed sandals that showcased his furry feet and jagged
brown toenails. But most offensive was the sight of his fallen comb-over; a mess of gray ringlets was all that remained. Madeleine
stared for a few seconds before regaining her composure and assessing how best to handle the delicate situation.
“Schmidty, I’m awfully sorry to inform you, but your hair—”
“Please, Miss Madeleine,” Schmidty interrupted, “it’s too painful to hear confirmation. I’m attempting a state
of denial, but you know it’s much harder than Mrs. Wellington makes it look.”
Madeleine nodded in agreement before patting Schmidty on the shoulder. In light of the heat and the fallen comb-over, Madeleine
thought it best to avoid a hug.
s Madeleine fanned both herself and Macaroni with a magazine, a bumper-sticker-covered VW bus screeched around the corner,
smoke literally rising off the cobblestones. Through the condensation and bug-covered windshield Madeleine was able to make
out a teenager behind the wheel. No more than nineteen, the young man was wearing a baseball cap and large sunglasses.