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Freaks and Shrieks: Mostly Ghostly #7    by R. L. Stine order for
Freaks and Shrieks
by Robert Lawrence Stine
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Two ghosts (Nicky and Tara) reside in Max Doyle's bedroom, and only he can see them, often resulting in funny situations, as in Pet Day at school. Nicky and Tara tag along. Max brings a mounted-bass fish named Ernie. While he's giving his fishy presentation in front of the classroom, Tara decides to lend Max a hand by taking the fish and holding it in the air. She then throws it to brother Nicky. Since no one else can see the ghosts, Max explains that it is a 'flying fish', but it still causes havoc.

Nicky and Tara yearn to find out how they became ghosts, and long for their scientist parents, who promised to return to them. Their parents found a way to capture evil ghosts - unfortunately the evils escaped, which is when the ghostly problems began, but that is all that Nicky and Tara can remember. A scientist named Dr. Smollet has been trailing Nicky and Tara. He claims he worked with their parents in the lab. Smollet has a friend named Mr. Harvey, who was the only one to see what happened the day Nicky, Tara, and their parents became invisible. One catch - Harvey is a chimpanzee. The doctor wants to switch Max's and Harvey's brain, one to the other, through the use of a computer and earphones.

Max agrees to help. Dr. Smollet performs the brain switch, then he and the chimp disappear. Max craves bananas, wants to groom everyone he sees, and makes 'Hoo Hoo' sounds. That same day, Max is scheduled for a second audition with the famous magician, 'Ballantine the Nearly Amazing', who will select three students to become protegés. Also, Max is to accompany Tracy, the prettiest and most popular girl at Jefferson Elementary, to her cousin's birthday 'flashlight party'. (The only reason Tracy asks Max is because he is a brain and the party will be full of geeks and nerds, so she wouldn't want to invite her boyfriends and admirers.)

What happens when Max becomes one-half chimpanzee is hilariously presented in R. L. Stine's Freaks and Shrieks, seventh in his Mostly Ghostly series. With cover-to-cover action, Stine keeps the reader's attention and curiosity right to the end. The author (also known for the popular Goosebumps series) has sold over 300 million children's books and has been entered in the The Guinness Book of Records. The adventures of Max and his ghostly friends will continue in Don't Close Your Eyes. In the meantime, readers can pick up books one through six to catch up on the details of how Max, Tara, and Nicky first came together.

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