Book Review: My Partner the Ghost by Lisa Schmid

Nov 24

My Partner the Ghost” is a full of fun, quirky and believable characters.  Ollie’s mom is on the move again, this time she has dragged her family of three back to her hometown.  Ollie, is clearly out of his element with his actress mother and want to be big star little sister, but he endures – even though it means moving into a pink house.


Soon, weird things began to happen, and Ollie actually makes a new friend –  Teddy a ghost, a boy who died during the gold rush era and happens to be about Ollie’s age.  Teddy helps Ollie get adjusted to life in the new town, helps him defeat his arch rival Mary Kay to become class president.  They also happen to solve a 100 year old mystery.  Where did Teddy’s father bury his pile of gold?  This book is chocked full of action, adventure and fun.  Any reader who is fluent with chapter books and ready to make the next step up will find this a good fit.

Purchase “My Partner the Ghost” on Amazon

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Book Review: Maple by Lori Nichols

Nov 03

Now that Halloween has passed, it’s time for some not so scary stories.

One of  my new favorites is a book I picked up this last summer at the SCBWI Summer Conference in LA: “Maple” written and illustrated by Lori Nichols.




The story starts out with, “Maple loved her name.  When she was still a whisper, her parents planted a tiny tree in her honor!”

The story unfolds with Lori’s beautiful illustrations and we watch Maple grow with her tree.  Maple always has a playmate in her tree, even if she isn’t always the best of playmates, sometimes she a bit loud, but she does take care of her tree.  Then, something wonderful happens, Maple gets a little sister, Willow.  Maple learns that babies cry and demand attention.  But, Maple and her tree know just what to do.

The illustrations are amazing and will quickly spark the imagination in your child.  I recommend “Maple” and “Maple and Willow”.  These books will become treasures to pass down.

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Scary Book Quote from “Wait Till Helen Comes”

Oct 23

“Michael, please get up.  Please.  I saw Helen, I saw her!” My voice quivered and my heart beat faster as I remembered what I’d seen in the graveyard.  “She was horrible, more horrible than even I imagined.” Molly in Wait Till Helen Comes.


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Middle Grade Reader Scary Bedtime Stories – If You Dare

Oct 20

In a follow up to last week’s post “Scary Bedtime Stories – If You Dare” which was geared toward younger readers,  this  week’s scary bedtime stories are for middle grade readers.  These are spooky, scary, magical and mysterious – your middle grader may want to sleep with the lights on.

Again, jump up on a comfy mattress, get a blanket to cover yourself up, a flashlight and maybe a teddy bear or something else to cuddle, and start reading.

Wait Till Helen Comes 

by Helen Downing Hahn



This book is a little older, written in 1986 but it still packs a punch for scary.  Molly and her brother Michael have a step-sister, Heather, that they don’t really like and with good reason.  She has made their lives miserable ever since their parents got married.  And, to make life worse for Molly and Michael, they’ve moved to a new house in the country.  The new house, just happens to be an old church and has a cemetery in the back yard. Spooky enough already.  But, the story really gets creepy when Heather starts talking to a ghost named Helen and she starts warning Molly and Michael that Helen is coming for them.  Dark secrets, ghosts, graves and a creepy step-sister will keep you scared through-out the entire book.


The Mostly True Story of Jack

by Kelly Barnhill




One of my favorites!   Jack is sent away to live in Hazelwood, Iowa with his aunt and uncle, who are very STRANGE.  Jack doesn’t expect much for his summer, except a boredom because usually he goes unnoticed, like he’s invisible.   Little does he know, the town of Hazelwood has been waiting for him for a long time. Creeped out yet?   Almost immediately upon arrival he makes three new friends, who just happen to be imaginary.  Jack also becomes the the center of attention to the town bully and the richest man in town who want Jack gone.   Don’t be fooled,  this book is chocked full of  suspense, twists and turns, magic and deeply rooted secrets.  I don’t want to give too much away, but look close at the cover, the creepy house, the tentacle like roots and Jack’s three friends following him on bikes.


Long Lankin

by Lindsey  Barraclough




This one comes from the other side of the pond, Great Britain,  and takes place during WWII.  I like to call this a good old fashioned horror tale, it will keep you up at night.  Cora and her younger sister, Mimi, are sent to stay with their elderly aunt in the isolated village of Byers Guerdo.  Auntie Ida is rigid and unfriendly.  The girls want nothing to do with Auntie Ida and the village, they want to go home  to London.   The reason they were sent to live with Aunt Ida to live, is to keep them safe from the bombs being dropped all over London.  But living in the isolated village with Aunt Ida is a fate which is worse than being back in London.  The sisters soon discover the evil curse and that their aunt’s life which was devastated the last time two young sisters were at Guerdon Hall.   Cora makes friends with Roger and Peter, two village boys, and together they uncover the horrifying truth that has held Bryers Guerdon in its dark grip for centuries.   Little do they know the curse is about to come full circle and it’s up to the group of friends to put a stop to it.

I think these three selections are enough to keep any middle grader scared and riveted at the same time.  Just make sure you have plenty of room in your bed when they come running from the nightmares.


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Scary Book Quote “The Zombie Chasers” by John Kloepfer

Oct 16

“Rice, I can’t just leave Zoe behind chewing people up and spitting them out.”

“But she’s doing what she loves,” Rice replied. “You’d don’t want to take that way from her do you?”

“Sorry, Rice.  I know she’s a zombie, but she’s also my sister.”

From “The Zombie Chasers” By John Kloepfer


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Scary Bedtime Stories – If You Dare

Oct 13

Do you love to read before bed?   When my kids were little, I read to them every night before bed and scary stories were always the favorite.  I love to read scary stories at lunch, before breakfast, before bed…well anytime.  My type of scary has more suspense in it than gore, and a slight twist of dark humor.  All of the authors and books I recommend fit my requirements for scariness at it’s best.

Before you begin you need a few things to make the experience just right: a big mattress, a blanket to throw over your head, a teddy bear to squish, and scary voices for each character. Bundle these all up together and you’re set to have these stories add to your perfectly scary Halloween.  Boo.

Here’s a few of my picks for the younger readers:

The Dark by Lemony Snicket,  Illustrated by Jon Klassen


Afraid of the dark? I mean who isn’t afraid of the dark?  What lurks in the closet or under your bed?  The story begins with: “The dark lived in the same house as Lazlo, a big place with a creaky floor, smooth, cold windows and several sets of stairs.”  I’m already scared.  Aren’t you?  Read it to the end, and find out what the dark has to say.

Jerry the Boy Who Cried Monster, by Sally Spratt


Okay, well I have to say this is my ALL TIME FAVORITE.  Did I mention I wrote this one?  Jerry, has a problem…monsters.  They are everywhere and no one believes him.  The monsters mess up his room, eat his homework and even try to eat the class hamster.  This is a fun but still scary book. because it has monsters in it, e-book available in the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt book app called MeeGenius.  Don’t want to read alone? Turn on the narration and have it read to you.

For kids who are just getting started reading on their own, or your middle grade readers.  Here are a few of my favorite scary authors (not too scary):


The Zombie Chaser Series by John Kloepfer. 139_TheZombieChasers-cvr

A 7 book series full of zombie chills and guts.  Book one drops you into the story of Zach and his best friend, Rice along with the mean queen Madison.  Everyone in the world around them is changing into ZOMBIES, includes Rice’s sister.  Its’ up to these three to survive and save the world. Can they do it without getting turned into zombies themselves?

Scary School by Derek the Ghost


I don’t even have to say this is scary, the title tells you all. Plus it’s written by a ghost named Derek.  This is the first in a 3 part series (so far). Derek is a ghost, he’s 11 and he died in science class when one of Mr. Acidbath’s experiments went horribly wrong.  Derek walks you through the  school where your homeroom teacher is Ms. Fang and T. Rex is there to help you through detention, if he’s not too hungry.   There’s a web-site filled with scary stuff, fun and games:

The Haunted Library, by Dori Hillestad Butler


Is the first of a 7 book series.  It’s more than a haunted library book, it’s a mystery too.  Kaz is a ghost, a kid ghost who got separated from his family and is now “stuck” in the library.  Claire is a human who can actually see Kaz.  Together the two work on their first mystery of who is haunting the library, and they try to find Kaz’s family.  It’s fun, and not too scary, if you don’t mind a ghost here and there that is.  If you want to read an excerpt and find out more about the series visit:

My Teacher is an Alien, by Bruce Colville


So maybe this title doesn’t sound so scary to you.  But what if your teacher WAS an alien and you saw him peeling off his face?  That’s what happened to Peter.   He and his best bud Susan discovered Mr. Smith’s (a.k.a. the alien) horrible plans for their class mates.  They have to work fast to get rid of the  extraterrestrial visitor—and save the rest of the sixth grade class and the world.  This is just the first book in a four part series.  But Bruce also has more series titled: Camp Haunted Hills and The Chamber of Horrors.  Visit his sight for details about all of his books and more:

What are your favorite scary stories?  How do you prepare?  Do you read on your bed under tucked under the blankets?  Maybe you read UNDER the bed?


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Book Review “Stop That Frog!” by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver

Sep 07

“Stop That Frog!” is the perfect little chapter book for your early reader.  An added bonus the publisher Grosset & Dunlap has used a font called Dyslexie.  The Dyslexie font was designed by a graphic designer specifically for dyslexic readers.  It makes it easier for them to read with out jumbling, inverting or flipping the letters.  The font will encourage dyslexic readers not to give up, they’ll be able to reader faster with less errors.


It’s not all about the font either, Hank is one of those kids that most kids can relate too.  He is a little bit impulsive, a little forgetful, some may use the label ADHD.  But, Hank is a fun kid with brilliant ideas and a kind heart.  In this book of the Hank series, Hank is chosen to take care of the principal’s frog for the weekend.  It’s a big job and a lot of responsibility.  There are few rules and things Hank can’t forget, like putting the lid back on the cage.  Can Hank do the job?  He does fall into a little trouble, when he forget to put the lid back on, even after a lot of reminders (it’s Hank’s world).  But in the end his friends and family come to his aid and the frog is safe, and everyone is happy.

If you have a struggling reader, this book is perfect.  If you have an avid new reader who just can’t get enough books, add the Hank series to your to read list.



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