Saturday, October 29, 2011

SPL Shelf Life [kids]

Haunted Houses, by Robert San Souci, 276 pages.

A large mansion … a tiny dollhouse … an isolated lodge in the wilderness … a long-deserted house on the edge of a town … a Japanese teahouse, and even a doghouse … the ten houses depicted in Robert San Souci’s stories are varied, but they all have one thing in common. Each is haunted by a horrifying something.
The first book in the Are You Scared Yet? series, Haunted Houses is a veritable “spookfest” featuring such creatures as a person-sized ghost-spider that craves human flesh, a fierce ghost pirate searching for his head, an enormous slavering ghost-dog, a family of spooky ghost-dolls, and invisible dust creatures with voracious appetites for people.
In a collection of short stories such as this, it’s important to have variety among the stories, and San Souci has accomplished this quite well. Some of the stories are eerie; some are creepy and some are quite startling. Most of the stories end “happily” but a couple of them do not. Some of the tales are rather more plausible than others, and the settings are diverse. However, each story is very well-written, with the necessary suspense and foreshadowing to intrigue any reader who enjoys being spooked.
Robert San Souci is the author of many books for children, including the Short and Shivery Tales books.
The Stratford Public Library has lots of Halloween reading for young and older, and in between!
** Recommended for ages 10 to 13 years.

Sinister Scenes, by P.J. Bracegirdle, 314 pages.

When the town of Spooking is chosen as the location for a horror movie, eleven-year-old resident Joy Wells is delighted. A fan of author E.A. Peugeot, she hopes that the focus on her town will help to convince people that the famous writer really did set some of his horror stories in Spooking.
Later, Joy is successful in her audition to replace a young actress who has mysteriously disappeared. She’s thrilled – until a costar, who has been renting a creepy old house on the edge of town, starts to exhibit some very bizarre behaviour on the set. Movie horror becomes real-life horror as the actor, somehow transformed by a hidden evil in the house, terrifies the acting cast and production team with his increasingly dangerous actions.
Sinister Scenes is the concluding title of an intriguing trilogy, The Joy of Spooking. The series features plenty of mystery and intrigue, danger, wry humour, a sophisticated vocabulary, a clever plot with plenty of twists and turns, a likeable protagonist and some memorable characters. The trail of clues scattered throughout each book will help to captivate and keep readers’ interest. Although set in modern times, the author has infused each story with a spooky Gothic tone, somewhat similar to the stories of Edgar Allan Poe.
Readers who have enjoyed the popular “Series of Unfortunate Events” books by Lemony Snicket would likely enjoy the Joy of Spooking trilogy as well.
** Recommended for ages 10 to 13 years.

These reviews appeared in the Stratford Gazette on October 27, 2011 and were written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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