Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Ghost of Graylock

I need to build up my repertoire of scary books to recommend, because my students love them and I did, too, when I was in middle school. Unfortunately, I haven't expanded my collection much since then, falling back on Mary Downing Hahn books and the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series. I learned about author Dan Poblocki from Crunchings and Munchings, so set about reading his books.

Poblocki does something that I really appreciate in middle grade horror: there are actually ghosts and the story is actually scary. It jumps right into the story, with the first ghost appearing on page 30. There are many red herrings in the novel, to the point that I thought I had solved the mystery, but wasn't completely sure. (For the record, I was right, ha ha!) The occurrences in the novel are sure to keep students reading and guessing about the mystery.

I appreciated that there was the subtle inclusion of an LGBTQ couple, with the kids spending the summer with their Aunt Claire and her partner, Anna. As an added bonus, the cover sells itself--I won't even have to book talk something that is this appealing.

Something that irked me at first was that the story progressed over an extended period of time. There was a ghost and a ticking clock, but the characters ended up working shifts in their aunt's pie shop and going to ride go karts. The adult in me was stressed that they weren't focused on the mystery the entire time, but then I realized it was pretty realistic. Kids don't have complete control over their days and they have to do what adults tell them. It's probably something that young readers wouldn't even notice, but it slowed me down.

I have Poblocki's other books on hold at the library and look forward to enjoying them as well.


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