Duckscares: The Nightmare Formula

duckscares book cover


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Book Review

Donald Duck’s triplet nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie are chosen to be International Student Ambassadors by the National Association of Studious and Talented Youth—flying off to Berlin on their first official trip. But for all of the fun things to do and new friends to meet, there’s also something a little strange, and a bit creepy, going on. Could it be a sinister plot?

Plot Summary

Life is bobbing along pretty nicely for duck brothers Huey, Dewey and Louie. They live with their Uncle Donald Duck in Duckburg (a nice little town). They enjoy their days at Hillside School (a nice little school). And they tend to keep their bills out of trouble most of the time, which their Uncle Donald thinks is very nice.

And there’s something really exciting in the midst of all this niceness: Because of the boys’ grades, attitude and kindness to others, they’ve been chosen to be International Student Ambassadors. Yep, the National Association of Studious and Talented Youth—which has the unfortunate acronym of NASTY—came to their school and chose them for a trip to Berlin. Woohoo!

Hey, just getting on a great big plane and flying out of Duckburg is exciting enough. But then to land in another country filled with incredible sights; to meet brand new friends (including a host family’s daughter, named Sophie, who Huey might just have a crush on); and to learn things in a German school, well, that’s way beyond exciting.

Then one day, though, something unexpected happens. One of the brothers’ new friends starts acting really strange in the middle of soccer practice. He seems scared and out of it. And soon others on the team start having the same kind of nightmare-in-the-daytime sort of attack.

When Huey, Dewey and Louie get together with Sophie to talk about it, they all agreed that it seemed like the boys were trapped in something like a daydream, and they were trapped with the things they feared the most. And it all seemed to be linked to the ball they got from a local toy shop and its very mysterious owner, Dr. Z.

But is all that just crazy talk? How could a soccer ball do anything? And why would it? It looks like a certain three duck brothers have more to do than just being good student ambassadors. They might just have a very creepy mystery to solve, too.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems

One individual has what you might call a certain belief system. As a boy he was afraid of nearly everything, which limited his ability to make friends. So as an adult he decided to look for ways to discover and use others’ fears to control them.

Authority Roles

All the adults in this story (other than Dr. Z) appear to be kind and caring. Huey, Dewey and Louie’s host family and the local officials are all very welcoming and they put together small parties to celebrate the boys’ arrival and to send them off with hugs and well-wishes as they leave.

Profanity & Violence

No bad language of any sort.

[Spoiler Warning] The toy emporium owner, Dr. Z, turns out to be something of a mad scientist. He creates a green goop that he calls the Nightmare Formula. This gooey substance has a drug-like effect on others, giving them fearful hallucinations if they inhale or make physical contact with it.

In that light, people see large scary monsters such as giant goblins and large snakes and bees, and they envision perilous situations involving earthquakes and tornadoes. In one scene some very real spiders spill out of an opened tank and begin swarming around a basement as the lights start blinking off and the kid occupants scramble for safety.

Sexual Content

Dewey and Louie both tease Huey about having a crush on Sophie. They even go so far as to report that he said she was his “first love,” though he denies it. However, by the end of the story it becomes clear that each duck may have had a small crush on the girl.

Discussion Topics

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Huey, Dewie and Louie talk about how much they like school. What advantages does this book say that school gives us? Huey, Dewey and Louie don’t always remember a situation the same way, even though they were all there at the same time. Do you think that happens with all of us? How should that affect how we deal with friends?

Dr. Z talks about having a hard time making friends as a kid. Do you know anyone like that? Do you ever take time to talk to kids who seem on the outside edges of things? How do you think we can help them feel like they’re more a part of things at school and while at play?

What do you do when you face something scary? Does our faith make a difference? Can a good friend help with scary things?

One thing the triplets don’t do is talk to a grownup when things get scary. Should they have? How might that have helped?

Additional Comments

The world of Donald Duck’s nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie has been explored in a number of forms in the past, most recently in the critically-acclaimed DuckTales show. So young fans of the ducky trio will likely be drawn to this new Disney Spooky Zone incarnation as a possible summer read. Parents should note that Duckscares is a blended novel with some comic book-like artwork mixed throughout the story. That could make this feel too simple for some, but it might make the book even more appealing for reluctant readers. And there’s nothing really scary in this Spooky Zone book (unless the thought of spiders crawling in the dark sends you crawling up walls).

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not necessarily their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Review by Bob Hoose

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