Ghastly and imaginative storytelling for the young—and not-so-young.

READ REVIEW

GHOST

THIRTEEN HAUNTING TALES TO TELL

Readers may not wish to read this chilling collection of stories and poems alone at night.

A frame story begins and concludes this collection, with a haunting twist. Two young boys sneak out of their camp cabin late at night to seek out Old Man Blackwood, the keeper of the 13 true ghost stories. Blackwood begins with the story “Reflection,” about a haunted mirror that looks back at the viewer, the reflection tapping while the hapless viewer peeks at it from beneath the covers. The short vignettes continue with “The Old Pond,” a grief-laden tale of a haunted sibling who becomes the victim of the vengeful dead. The seemingly innocent poem “The Doll” leaves a young girl motherless while “Depth” takes readers to the eerie corridors of a sunken submarine. With further stories such as “Widow in Black” and “The Boy in the Basement,” even the titles themselves may cause readers to wonder if they should keep the lights on. Illustrátus is a design collective including authors Blaise Hemingway and Jesse Reffsin and illustrators Chris Sasaki and Jeff Turley. The latter perfectly punctuate this book of horror with wild apparitions, dark woods, and creepy dolls, the chill of the unknown brought to life by their haunting images. The inclusion of characters of multiple races makes these tales shiveringly accessible.

Ghastly and imaginative storytelling for the young—and not-so-young. (Horror. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7128-9

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Not for the faint of heart or stomach (or maybe of any parts) but sure to be appreciated by middle school zombie cognoscenti.

ZOMBIE BASEBALL BEATDOWN

Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle meets Left for Dead/The Walking Dead/Shaun of the Dead in a high-energy, high-humor look at the zombie apocalypse, complete with baseball (rather than cricket) bats.

The wholesome-seeming Iowa cornfields are a perfect setting for the emergence of ghastly anomalies: flesh-eating cows and baseball-coach zombies. The narrator hero, Rabi (for Rabindranath), and his youth baseball teammates and friends, Miguel and Joe, discover by chance that all is not well with their small town’s principal industry: the Milrow corporation’s giant feedlot and meat-production and -packing facility. The ponds of cow poo and crammed quarters for the animals are described in gaggingly smelly detail, and the bone-breaking, bloody, flesh-smashing encounters with the zombies have a high gross-out factor. The zombie cows and zombie humans who emerge from the muck are apparently a product of the food supply gone cuckoo in service of big-money profits with little concern for the end result. It’s up to Rabi and his pals to try to prove what’s going on—and to survive the corporation’s efforts to silence them. Much as Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker (2010) was a clarion call to action against climate change, here’s a signal alert to young teens to think about what they eat, while the considerable appeal of the characters and plot defies any preachiness.

Not for the faint of heart or stomach (or maybe of any parts) but sure to be appreciated by middle school zombie cognoscenti. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-316-22078-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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Mary Downing Hahn fans will enjoy this just-right blend of history and spooky.

SCRITCH SCRATCH

A ghost haunting prompts a Chicago girl to investigate her local history.

Seventh grader Claire loves the predictability of science while her father relishes the paranormal, running a ghost-tour business in Chicago. Their worlds collide when Claire must help out her father at the last minute, and a ghost boy not only becomes an unwanted passenger on the bus, but follows her home and around the city. Currie’s visceral descriptions of the boy’s haunting—scratching behind walls, dripping water, icy air, scrawled notes, and more—exude creepy. Also scary to the middle schooler is losing Casley, her best friend and science fair partner, to Emily, the new girl in school who’s preoccupied with makeup. When Claire can no longer keep the ghost a secret, she recruits her older brother, along with Casley and Emily, to help her discover his identity. As she tries to apply the scientific method to the paranormal mystery, Claire realizes as well that there’s a human story behind every historical event. And as finding the ghost’s story becomes her mission, she researches a true Chicago disaster that killed more lives than the sinking of the Titanic. In the process, she also learns that jealousy hinders female solidarity. The historical details are fascinating, and the lessons Claire learns are lightly delivered. All characters, including the ghost boy, assume the white default.

Mary Downing Hahn fans will enjoy this just-right blend of history and spooky. (author’s note) (Paranormal suspense. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-0972-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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