Set in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Hide and Seeker by Daka Hermon is a horror story. Along with the Fantastic Four, readers will drown in a sea of scary. If you don’t believe monsters are real, wait until you experience the creepy encounters of Hermon’s characters! Since his mother died, Justin Vaughn believes that everybody leaves, nothing stays the same, and nothing fits anymore. One of his best friends, Zee Murphy is back after a long absence, but he has been changed by the trauma of his experience while lost. Now, along with two other friends—Lyric Rivers, who is loyal and believes that friends help and don’tRead More →

Like nightmares, scary stories are a sort of dress rehearsal for real-life fear, helping children learn to cope with the emotion in a low-stakes setting.  After all, the world can be a scary place where children will encounter frightful situations—such as getting lost, losing friends, being less loved than a sibling, or experiencing abandonment as a result of parental death or divorce.  Therefore, knowing how to confront fear can benefit children and help them cope with difficulty. Scary stories like Dan Poblocki’s Ghost Hunter’s Daughter, targeted for middle grade readers in the eight to twelve year old age group, not only help children forge resilience but give them a senseRead More →

In Small Spaces, the prequel to Katherine Arden’s newest book Dead Voices, Coco Zintner, Olivia Adler, and Brian Battersby were alone, lost, and running from Seth, also known as the smiling man, and from living scarecrows who hunted in a dark corn maze and who tried to drag them off and turn them into scarecrows, too, Good at playing chess and making plans, Coco is a careful and nervous girl.    Ollie, Coco’s best friend who lost her mother in an airplane accident, excels at math and wishes to be as fierce, reckless and brilliant as her mother the math professor and adventurer had been—“always laughing,Read More →

Although R.L. Stine’s edited collection of spooky stories for middle-grade readers from American mystery writers, Scream and Scream Again! aren’t exactly horror stories by definition, mystery and imagination play heavily in them as the authors spin the element of fear into every day, ordinary things. In his introduction, Stine promises twenty different stories by twenty different authors, all beginning or ending with a scream and all waiting to give readers the “shivers and shakes.”   Some of the screams come from giddy, gleeful moments like roller-coaster rides while others result from shock at dealing with a morbid or utterly uncanny situation like encountering a zombie orRead More →

As Jing turns eleven, she realizes that the age is “like an age of breakthroughs – tea-drying for the first time, my first offering to the guardian, visiting a new city, getting a new hanfu…new adventure, new experiences” (30). What seems like an exciting new period of her life quickly turns into her greatest fear, though. Jing’s widowed Aunt Mei has led the family since the death of Jing’s mother, and because of low resources, she convinces Jing’s father that it is time for Jing to get married. Jing is spirited enough to fight back against the plan to sell her to a big cityRead More →

Poppy, Marcus, Azumi, Dash, and Dylan are five children who do not know anything about one another until they meet in the Shadow House. Poppy is an orphan living in a group home with other young women. She is different than the other girls and has difficulty making friends. Recently, every time Poppy looks into the mirror, there is a Girl staring back at her. Suddenly, Poppy comes across a letter addressed to her from a Great-Aunt Delphinia who invites her to come live with her on her estate. Poppy eagerly grabs her belongings, and runs out the door. Marcus, a talented musician, seems toRead More →

David Neilsen is a professional teller of spooky, horrific tales for all ages. For his first novel, Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom, he’s chosen to stick to what he’s good at. Intended for readers between the ages of 8 and 12, Neilsen offers a quirky, uniquely chilling story that provides an engaging and suspenseful read for everyone, especially if you are afraid of going to the doctor. It all starts when someone buys the abandoned house on Hardscrabble Street. It’s a house “of imagination, a blank canvas just waiting to be painted with the gleeful brushstrokes of youth” (2). The kids from theRead More →

“What do you do when your favorite teacher starts turning into a were-hyena?” (1). That’s the question raised in The Curse of the Were-Hyena by Bruce Hale, the first in the new Monstertown Mystery series. Smart, silly, and intriguing, this middle-grade novel is an all-around fun time. “Forget about homework habits and curriculum goals – this is the kind of practical stuff they should cover in back-to-school orientation” (1). Carlos and Benny are your average fourth grade best friends, “just regular, comics-nerd-type kids” with the best teacher in the whole school (61). Mr. Chu teaches in exciting and engaging ways and all of his studentsRead More →

“Nothing is quieter, or has more secrets . . . than a book that’s closed” (233), writes Avi in his newest novel, School of the Dead.  With each turn of the page, the book whispers its secrets about why Uncle Charlie is so different, why Jessica Richards walks with a limp, and how Tony Gilbert gets in to Penda School, a private school in San Francisco, so easily. Uncle Charlie may be eccentric, but he is the best friend of sixth grader Tony Gilbert, who hates fakery—especially adults who pretend to enjoy adolescent pastimes.  But Uncle Charlie loves kids’ stuff like video games, spooky stories, andRead More →