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Cover image for Heck : where the bad kids go
Heck : where the bad kids go


First Yearling edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Random House, [2008]
Physical Description:
288 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Number in series:
When timid Milton and his older, scofflaw sister Marlo die in a marshmallow bear explosion at Grizzly Mall, they are sent to Heck, an otherworldly reform school from which they are determined to escape.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader MG 6.0 8.0 123923.

Accelerated Reader AR MG 6.0 8.0 123923.
Added Author:


Call Number
J Basye, D.

On Order



WHEN MILTON AND Marlo Fauster die in a marshmallow bear explosion, they get sent straight to Heck, an otherworldly reform school. Milton can understand why his kleptomaniac sister is here, but Milton is--orwas--a model citizen. Has a mistake been made? Not according to Bea "Elsa" Bubb, the Principal of Darkness. She doesn't make mistakes. She personally sees to it that Heck--whether it be home-ec class with Lizzie Borden, ethics with Richard Nixon, or gym with Blackbeard the Pirate--is especially, well,heckishfor the Fausters. Will Milton and Marlo find a way to escape? Or are they stuck here for all eternity, or until they turn 18, whichever comes first?

Author Notes

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 wherethebadkidsgo.com and Dale's blog at wherethebadkidsgo.wordpress.com.

From the Hardcover edition.

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Starred Review. In his uproarious send-up of all things purgatorial, debut novelist Basye gives readers a new lease on afterlifes. Milton, a blameless 11-year-old bookworm, and his blue-haired, thirteen-going-on-thirty-year-old sister, Marlo, are at the Mall of Generica (in Generica, Kans.), when they meet their demise in a ludicrous accident (Milton's nemesis plants a stick of dynamite in a 20-foot-tall statue made from marshmallow: Smoke, noise, and burning marshmallow fused together to create a sickeningly sweet moment, one that was both ridiculously tragic and tragically ridiculous). Unfortunately, Marlo has been shoplifting and stashed her goods in Milton's gear, so both get sent to Heck--a hell for the under-18 demographic. Never mind that Milton is technically innocent: The devil's in the details, snaps Heck's principal, Bea Elsa Bubb. After a series of ill-fated yet deliciously documented attempts to escape, one sibling succeeds in returning from the Underworld, but the finale is almost beside the point. The author's umpteen clever allusions--characters' eternal fates are decided by standardized Soul Aptitude Tests; Mr. R. Nixon teaches ethics to evildoers in room 1972--make this book truly sparkle. Ages 9-12. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

When a 20-foot-tall marshmallow bear explodes at the Mall of Generica in Kansas, young Marlo and Milton are killed and sent to Heck, where "the souls of the darned toil for all eternity--or until they turn eighteen, whichever comes first." With other tortures, there's school in Heck: home economics taught by Lizzie Borden, ethics by Richard Nixon and biology by Typhoid Mary, whom they dissect while she's still conscious. And what would a journey to the netherworld be without a new friend named Virgil? Together, the threesome never abandons hope and never feels up the River Styx without a paddle, as they seek escape from this tedious and phantasmagoric world. Basye lays on thick with the wordplay and classical allusions, and readers may at times feel in Limbo along with Milton and Virgil. Humorous chapter titles, sly banter between characters and a richly imagined world ought to make this a hit for the intended audience. In tribute to old Blackbeard, who puts the "scurvy dogs" to work in one scene, rate this "Arrrrrgh." (Fantasy. 9-12) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Welcome to Grizzly Mall: Home of the State's Second-Largest Bear-Themed Marshmallow Statue! Such is the Kansas-fed, white-bread suburb 13-year-old Marlo Faustus longs to escape. And escape she does, with her unwitting, innocent younger brother, Milton, when said sculpture explodes, and they arrive, newly deceased, in Heck where the bad kids go. Puns and allusions abound, enough to sate the corniest appetite, even if many will slide right by the reader: the kids' limbo  is ruled by one Bea Elsa Bubb, Principal of Darkness, and faculty include Mr. Nixon (ethics), Lizzie Borden (home ec), and Mr. Dior (fashion, though his sole offense appears to be that he is effete). Beneath the jocular surface, though, Marlo and Milton work through a complex sibling relationship on their quest for escape. Can they put aside their differences to elude the Boogeypeople and hall demonitors free the jarred blobs of lost souls, hatch a getaway, and stay together? Heck if I know.--Barthelmess, Thom Copyright 2008 Booklist