Avi is an author who has written multiple books in a variety of genres. Something Upstairs is both a ghost story and a historical fiction book. Kenny, the main character, moves with his parents from Los Angeles to Providence, Rhode Island. His parents have bought a house from the colonial era, and it is not long before Kenny discovers someone else is inhabiting the house. Caleb, a slave boy who died in the house wants Kenny to help uncover the truth about his death, so his spirit can be free. However, uncovering the mystery of Caleb’s death puts Kenny’s life in jeopardy. This story is full of suspense and also gives you a look at the slave trade of the 1700’s. Something Upstairs is a great read for Halloween or for any time of year.
The Graveyard Book
With the approach of Halloween, a book titled The Graveyard Book seems as if it would be a book of ghostly horror. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is a unique read. It starts out and ends with a story of murder. In between the book becomes a story of growing up and friendship as it follows the life of Bod Owens, a young boy, an intended murder victim, who ends up being adopted by the supernatural residents of a cemetery. The middle of the book is about Bod’s adventures in the cemetery. He acquires some supernatural abilities and cultivates friendships with both the living and dead. As the book nears the end, the boy entering his teens begins to venture outside the graveyard where he discovers the dangers of living beyond the safety of the cemetery. For those of you wondering if this is a good book, consider the fact that it has won several awards, including the Newberry Award in 2009.
The Boy Who Could Not Die
By mid October people begin to delight in fright. The Boy Who Could Not Die, by William Sleator, is a creepy book that may be what those of you who enjoy eerie stories will find delightful. Ken, the main character, who is mourning the death of his best friend, becomes so obsessed with immortality that he visits a psychic who promises eternal life for a mere $50.00. What seems like a bargain turns out to be the worst deal he ever made. In exchange for his soul, Ken is able to escape death, but he discovers there are consequences. During his waking hours life is normal, but at night strange, violent dreams disturb his sleep. Ken begins to question if his nightmares are really confined to the world of sleep or if they are reality. With the help of a friend, Ken battles evil forces trying to retrieve his soul.
This book was recommended to me a few years ago by a student who claimed this was the best book he ever read. Although it is not the best book I have ever read, it is an engrossing tale of terror that kept me on the edge of my seat.
Dan Gutman’s novel Getting Air is unique in that it combines skate boarding with a plane crash. On the way to a skate boarding competition the main character, his sister, and two friends survive a plane crash along with a young flight attendant and an elderly woman. Circumstances have left their plane untraceable. As they work together to survive, the main character gains new insights about himself, his sister, and his friends, as well as getting to know the flight attendant and elderly woman. It seems the book would be intense and serious, but the author manages to infuse humor through the narration of the main character. He also cleverly weaves the skate board theme throughout the story. This book is high interest and an easy read. The fact that Getting Air was a contender for last year’s Iowa Children’s Choice Award gives you an idea of its appeal.
I love working in the middle school library because each day I get to work with wonderful students. In addition, I have access to lots of interesting books. It is always fun to help students connect to books they like, and to talk about what they are reading.