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About the Author

Dale E. Basye has written stories, essays, and reviews for many publications and organizations. He was a film critic, winning several national journalism awards, and the publisher of an arts and entertainment newspaper called "Tonic." Dale E. Basye once jumped out of a plane for a story (a story about jumping out of a plane). Luckily, he's never written about brain surgery. Here's what Dale has to say about his first book: "There is a time that chafes against childhood and adulthood, leaving a rash that never quite goes away. Sometimes it itches uncontrollably, and no one can see it. It's like when you wear swim trunks for too long out of the pool. Heck is like that. And, no matter what anyone tells you, Heck is real. This story is real. Or as real as anything like this can be." Dale E. Basye lives in Portland, Oregon as part of the criminal witness relocation program, where he lives every day in fear that he will be discovered . . . oh, poop. To find out more, visit and Dale's blog at


Gr 6-8-Quintessential good-kid Milton Fauster knows all about his sister Marlo's life of petty crime. So, when they are both killed in a freak marshmallow explosion, he isn't surprised that she doesn't qualify for Heaven, but he's shocked to find that he isn't going there either. They end up in Heck, an unearthly reform school that isn't quite Hell, but certainly not a place anyone would want to stay in "for all eternity-or until they turn 18, whichever comes first." Principal Bea "Elsa" Bubb figures that there is something irregular about Milton's soul contract and keeps a close eye on him. Milton, meanwhile, plans to escape. During a dreary class, he meets Virgil, who has a map of the Nine Circles of Heck. Unfortunately, the only way out is through the sewer pipes, literally "down the toilet." The torments of the darned are described in vivid and often grotesque detail. Errant toddlers nap in gingerbread coffins while Boogeypeople read them Edgar Allan Poe. Milton and company make two graphically described voyages through the underworld plumbing. There are numerous classical and historical allusions, many of which will sail over the heads of the intended audience. ("I have an ax to grind with you," snarls home-economics teacher Lizzie Borden, after giving the celery 40 whacks.) In the end, the clever, if somewhat disturbing premise is overwhelmed by slow pacing and relentless descriptions of garbage, sewage, and other heckishly unpleasant things.-Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, June 30, 2008: "The author's umpteen clever allusions...make this book truly sparkle."Review, The Wall Street Journal, July 26-27, 2008: "Parents and readers . . . are in for a treat with Dale E. Basye's very funny debut novel."

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