Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Scary Stories

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

Small Spaces Book Cover“Avoid large places at night—keep to small.”

This is the warning that 11 year old Olivia “Ollie” Adler gets from a distraught woman trying desperately to throw a book in the river. Ollie, a lover of books, steals it from the woman, and finds the story within is one she can’t put down. It is the story of two brothers, the girl they love, and a bargain they’ve made with a sinister figure known only as “the smiling man.” Ollie dismisses it as a made up ghost story, until a field trip to Misty Valley Farm—the location of the story—ends in a broken down bus and a warning on her previously broken digital watch to “RUN.” Can Ollie help save her classmates from the horrors lurking in the woods? Maybe—if she remembers to stick to small spaces until sunrise. For fans of Mary Downing Hahn and Goosebumps, Small Spaces by Katherine Arden is a must-read.

Book reviewed by Julie J., Assistant Head of Youth Services

Olive and the Backstage Ghost by Michelle Schusterman      

Olive and the Backstage Ghost by Michelle SchustermanAfter an unsuccessful audition, Olive runs into an old vaudeville theatre to escape the New York rain. In the comfort of the empty auditorium, Olive sings her heart out and receives the attention of the mysterious Maude Devore. Olive is immediately offered a part in Maude’s variety show, and she is impressed by the theatre and her new costars. She loves this new “family” especially since her mother has been strict with her. But…why does the food taste strange? And how can her fellow performers demonstrate such death-defying feats without getting hurt? Read this haunting tale to uncover the answers to these questions and more.

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier 

Cover image for The Night gardener : a scary storyIf you enjoy hearing spooky tales told ‘round the campfire, look no further than the audiobook version of The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier. Listen to the tale of Irish orphans Molly and Kip as they travel to a rural English village to begin working and living inside a quirky family’s old mansion. In the dead of night, they hear heavy footsteps walking throughout the house. Who or what is walking through the house? And how are those footprints connected to the family’s weird behavior and to the old tree just outside the window?This Victorian ghost story, brought to life by the incredible voice talents of narrator Beverly Crick, will keep you riveted.

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

The Gathering by Dan Poblocki

Cover image for The gatheringLooking for a chapter book that sends cold shivers up your spine? Look no further than The Gathering, the first book in the “Shadow House” series by Dan Poblocki.  Five children from across the U.S. are lured to the mysterious Larkspur House under false pretenses. Is it a music academy? Is it the residence of a long-lost great aunt?  What they find inside the immense building is something completely different. Once the kids are behind the locked doors, they may never leave again.  One of the strengths of this unique title is its connection to an app called “Shadow House” which can be downloaded for free from the Google Play app for Android smartphones or from the Apple app store for iPhones. Once the app is downloaded, the reader can access additional ghost stories every time a sigil, or symbol, is discovered on a book page. I enjoyed the app’s creepy music and stories as well as the spooky illustrations. The book will entice you without the app, but I recommend trying the app to add to the chilling experience.

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

Cover image for The jumbiesWhen a prank finds Corinne La Mer chasing a furry agouti through her island’s forbidden forest, she comes face to face with a mysterious creature hidden in shadow. After dodging it, her terror quickly fades. What she comes to find out later, however, is that some thing followed her out of the trees. That thing is a jumbie, a dark creature of the night. The villagers know that jumbies exist only in old stories. They can’t be real, can they?  The unique island setting and ever-present suspense means that this story is a can’t-miss; just don’t forget to leave your nightlight on!

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant