DR. FELL AND THE PLAYGROUND OF DOOM for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

If you ever see this guy move into your town – pack up and get out of there. Dr. Fell bringsdrfell-cover creepiness to a whole new level. Life as you know it is pretty much over once he moves into a neighborhood and casts his weird spell over the residents. This is so you can’t comprehend what he’s really up to with the little ones or urchins as he calls them.

Everyone seems to be in love with this weird man especially after he builds a massive playground structure in his front yard that children gravitate toward. It’s so dangerous that injuries occur daily. Breaks, bruises, and near death experiences are cured in quick fashion by the good doctor. How is he doing this and just what is his real purpose?

Fortunately for the reader there are three kids who aren’t under his spell. Best friends Gail and Nancy, along with Gail’s younger brother, Jerry. They pursue an answer to the strangeness and get in a little deeper than any of them want. The mystery unravels in this 27 chapter tale that may not be the best to read at bedtime. No nightmares for me but those a bit younger might not be so fortunate.

The story of Dr. Fell is perfect for the upcoming fall season of ghosts and goblins. A good mixture of humor and fright for those who enjoy a sinister antagonist.


FULL PLOT: A strange old man named Dr. Fell moves into the long-abandoned house at the end of Hardscrabble Street and very quickly builds the most amazing playground in the history of playgrounds in his front yard. Every child in the neighborhood (and soon every child in every other neighborhood) is drawn to and becomes obsessed with his playground, and Dr. Fell himself becomes an instant celebrity. That more and more children are getting hurt on his playground bothers nobody, since Dr. Fell always brings the injured child into his home and returns him or her later that day in perfect health no matter the injury–scraped knee, bruised elbow, twisted ankle, broken wrist, punctured lung, cracked skull, what have you. Only Gail and Jerry Bloom and their friend Nancy Pinkblossom seem to be immune to the decrepit man’s call and think anything’s wrong, and they soon realize that if they don’t do something, their entire neighborhood (as well as pretty much every other neighborhood) is doomed.


  1. Full page art work is scattered throughout. The sketches are a fun companion that will have you smiling.
  2. This would make a super read aloud in the classroom. I can already hear the kids saying “When are you going to read another chapter.”
  3. The author obviously had fun making up the names for the residents. Candice Gloomfellow, Ethel Pusster, and Bud Fetidsky to name a few.
  4. Dr. Fell never comes out and says anything in simple terms. He uses an elegant language, but the youngsters quickly figure out the real meaning. Fun to read and laughable.
  5. Do I smell a sequel? It seems by the ending in this story that one might be forthcoming. I look forward to this possibility.

FAVORITE LINES (from a frightful first meeting with Dr. Fell):

Dr. Fell extended a pale, bony hand toward the children. They watched it approach as if in slow motion, each knobby knuckle looking like it was ready to crack into dust at the faintest breeze. Finally, Gail, not wanting to be impolite, met the hand with her own and gave it a limp shake, careful not to exert too much pressure for fear of crushing the old man’s fingers.

ABOUT the AUTHOR: David Neilsen is a classically trained actor/storyteller, a journalist, and a theater/improvisation teacher for children and adults. During the Halloween season, David can be found telling spooky tales to audiences of all ages, or performing one of his one-man shows based on the stories of horror author H.P. Lovecraft. David lives in New York with his family. Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom is his first novel.

Want to listen to some of David’s work? Here’s the first five minutes of the audio book David recorded. He has the spot on voice to pull it off.


Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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10 Responses to DR. FELL AND THE PLAYGROUND OF DOOM for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

  1. Sounds like a great book for the Halloween season. I’m not so much into creepy but can see that this would appeal to kids who are.

  2. diegosdragon says:

    I wonder what else is going on inside Dr. Fell’s home besides mending the kids’ injuries. Worth a read to find out!

  3. This sounds brilliant.. A must for my TBR.

  4. Emily says:

    So glad you reviewed this too! Love this book. And I agree, the names of characters are totally something to enjoy–they made me laugh every time.

  5. The title is tremendous. I enjoy creepy, so will be on the look-out for this one!

  6. What a great title and cover! Looks creepy and is appealing to readers. I enjoyed your review and comments.

  7. I love the title and the concept of this book. The Review has a copy for me and I hope to get to it very soon. Thanks for the review. It makes me want to read it even more.

  8. jennienzor says:

    The plot description reminds me a little of Something Wicked This Way Comes. This sounds like an interesting read. I don’t normally like creepy, but this antagonist sounds very intriguing. I’ll have to look for this.

  9. Dorine White says:

    This is on my list to review next for MMGM. I just got started reading.

  10. Pingback: BEYOND THE DOORS for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday | Always in the Middle…

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