Horrid High

How horrid can you be?

If eleven-year old Ferg Gottin had been bought from a store, his parents would have returned him and demanded a refund. For Mr and Mrs Gottin, parenting is an experiment gone badly wrong. So when they find Horrid High, a school where you can dump your kids and forget about them, they decide to ship Ferg off. So that they can forget him and get on with the rest of their lives.

Horrid High is quite unlike the boarding schools Ferg has read about in storybooks. Instead, it’s the world’s most horrid school. Chef Gretta Gross’s cooking is inedible! Master Mynus’s maths classes are truly mental! English teacher Vera Verbose will only allow the children to read from dictionaries and encyclopaedias! And Coach Kallus makes the kids run on their knees!

But Ferg makes four extraordinary friends: a pickpocket, a ‘lockpicker’, a hypnotist and a mimic. Together they make a series of startling discoveries. Horrid High isn’t just a school for orphans, runaways and rejects; it’s a training ground for horrid teachers who are being sent out into the world to spread horridness! If that’s not enough, the wicked principal has a Grand Plan that he plans to reveal to every horrid teacher everywhere.

Can Ferg and his friends survive Horrid High together? And can they stop the principal before it’s too late? Open the gates of Horrid High and find out!

Roger Dahl and I so enjoyed working together for Wisha Wozzariter, we didn’t want to let a good thing go. The perfectly horrid characters of Horrid High came to life slowly over all the miles between Seattle and Mumbai.

When I am writing, I can see the character in my mind’s eye but blurry at the edges. When Roger puts pen to paper, everything that is soft and indistinct becomes sharp and clear. I found myself looking forward to checking my inbox every morning for an attachment from Roger. And each time I saw a character delineated, I had the same ‘voila!’ moment, that gaspy feeling you get when someone has read your mind. I sent Roger detailed descriptions of each character that I thought I knew like the back of my hand. And yet, when they came back illustrated, they were surprising and unexpected, like people I had met for the first time.

We decided to illustrate all the teachers since they were so… horrid and so ripe for caricature – Coach Kallus’s tattoos, Chef Gretta’s harsh expressions, Nurse Malady’s hairy legs. We spent a lot of time trying to find a face for Volumina Butt, the school bully. Although she is a large girl, she is still a child. Finally, we decided to leave her faceless.

The only children we gave clear faces to were Ferg and Fermina. We knew we would have to leave a little something for Book 2 …

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Penguin (September 22, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN: 978-0143333173

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Praise for Horrid High

There’s no going back from that first line, it totally draws you in

Hindustan Times

The writing is by turns direct and evocative.

Mint Lounge

A funny, witty, and charming story for kids and parents alike. An utterly delightful book.

The Swaddle

A humourous story of a perfectly ghastly school.

The Hindu

To say that I enjoyed the book would be an understatement.

What the Far Out

A rollicking read, a throwback to the good old school series.

Indian Express