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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

frightlopedia

Frightlopedia: An Encyclopedia of Everything Scary, Creepy, and Spine-Chilling, from Arachnids to Zombies
Author: Julie Winterbottom
Illustrator: Stefano Tambellini
Published August 23rd, 2016 by Workman Publishing Company

Summary: Here’s the book for kids who love scary stuff, whether it’s telling ghost stories around a campfire, discovering the origins of various vampires, monsters, and witches, or reading creepy tales under the covers with a flashlight.

Combining fact, fiction, and hands-on activities, Frightlopedia is an illustrated A-Z collection of some of the world’s most frightening places, scariest stories, and gruesomest creatures, both real and imagined. Discover Borneo’s Gomantong Cave, where literally millions of bats, cockroaches, spiders, and rats coexist—in pitch darkness. Learn about mythical creatures like the Mongolian Death Worm—and scarily real ones like killer bees, which were accidentally created by scientists in the 1950s. Visit New Orleans’s Beauregard-Keyes house, where Civil War soldiers are said to still clash in the front hall. Plus ghost stories from around the world, a cross-cultural study of vampires, and how to transform into a zombie with makeup. Each entry includes a “Fright Meter” measurement from 1 to 3, because while being scared is fun, everyone has their limit.

Review: I loved the structure of this text, and students and other teachers will as well. Different than a traditional encyclopedia, the Frightlopedia mixes fact, fiction, traditional literature, and hands-on activities which makes this a perfect classroom text as it will suck in readers in so many different ways, and it will also work in such a variety of classroom activities as well.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Like I shared above, this text has a really nice mix of genres along with hands-on activities. For example, parts of the text could be used during lessons on mythology, literary standards, traditional literature, science, or history. There is just so much, it is hard to actually share it all. Go into MONSTERS, if you want include mythological creatures; SHARKS or JELLYFISH during biology; CAPUCHIN CATACOMBS or MUMMIES in history; XYLOPHOBIA or CLAUSTROPHOBIA during word students of affixes; WRITE YOUR OWN GHOST STORY during creative writing; and so much more!

Discussion Questions: Which section did you find the most frightening? Why? The most interesting? Why?; Do you believe in ghosts?; How were mummies made in different cultures?; Which animal is the most frightening to you?

Flagged Passages: 

frightlopedia-vampire

frightlopedia-vampire-2

Read This If You Love: Ghost stories, mythology, being scared, learning about weird animals, learning about scary history

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top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because The Broke and Bookish are particularly fond of lists (as are we!). Each week a new Top Ten list topic is given and bloggers can participate.

 Today’s Topic: Ten Scary Books I Recommend to Jumpy People

Kellee

I am not a huge scary book fan because I am really jumpy, and they can definitely make me have bad dreams, but these are ten scary books I’ve enjoyed recently and can recommend because the awesomeness of the story outweighs the side effects of the jumpiness.

1. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood

Now, I won’t lie. This one is pretty darn scary, but Anna is a fascinating character.

2. The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

monstrumologist

Rick Yancey’s story mixes fantastical science with treacherous monsters to make a truly smart horror story.

3. Doll Bones by Holly Black

dollbones

Yes, this doll is super creepy!

4. The Haunting of Derek Stone: City of the Dead by Tony Abbott

city-of-the-dead

I read Derek’s story years ago, but it hasn’t left me yet.

5. and 6. In the Shadow of Blackbirds and The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

in-the-shadow-of-blackbirds cure for dreaming

Cat Winters has a way of writing magic realism with a touch of suspense and a dash of creepy. But it all mixes up into stories you won’t be able to put down.

*These are not sequels*

7. This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

this dark endeavor

How did Dr. Frankenstein become the mad scientist we all know? Read to find out.

8. Coraline by Neil Gaiman

coraline2

After reading, you will never hope to have a different family!

9. Guys Read: Thriller edited by Jon Sciezska

 guys-read-thriller

A collection of spooky stories ranging from humor to horror.

10. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

a monster calls

Not a traditional horror story, but instead is a fantastical story filled with pain and fear and love.

Which scary books would you recommend?

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The Curse of the Were-Hyena
Author: Bruce Hale
Published July 5th, 2016 by Disney-Hyperion

Summary: What do you do when your favorite teacher starts turning into a were-hyena?

a) Flee in terror?
b) Try to cure him?
c) Bring him carrion snacks?

Mr. Chu, the coolest teacher ever, has developed some very unusual habits, like laughing hysterically for no reason, sniffing people’s homework, and chasing chickens. When best friends Carlos and Benny decide to find out what’s happening to him, they get caught up in some moonlight madness. And it looks like just the beginning of the weirdness that has arrived in the town of Monterrosa. . . . This first entry in a silly, sassy, and suspenseful new series will leave readers howling with laughter.

About the Author: Edgar-nominated author Bruce Hale is passionate about inspiring reluctant readers to read. He has written or illustrated more than 35 seriously funny books for children, including the popular School for S.P.I.E.S. and Chet Gecko Mysteries series; as well as picture books such as Clark the Shark, Snoring Beauty, and Big Bad Baby. An actor and a Fulbright Scholar in Storytelling, Bruce is in demand as a speaker, having presented at conferences, universities, and schools around the world. Bruce’s book The Malted Falcon was an Edgar Award Finalist and Murder, My Tweet won the Little D Award for Humor Writing. He lives in Santa Barbara, California with his wife and dog.

Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook

bruce hale

Review: There are so many kids who are going to love this new series!  It immediately reminded me a bit of the Bailey School Kids series because it does such a good job being funny and scary (but not TOO scary; just enough), so this series is going to be a wonderful ladder between Bailey School and Goosebumps. I also really liked the easy inclusion of a diverse cast of characters. This will help a wide variety of readers to see themselves in one of the characters. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: In addition to a good Halloween or full moon read aloud and definitely a classroom library addition, The Curse of the Were-Hyena would be a good cross-curricular read because of the projects Mr. Chu has his students do as well as the interesting look into African art. First, Mr. Chu assigns an oral report on “Something that Makes me Crazy.” This would be a fun tie in to the book, and it would be a good public speaking opportunity. There is also mention of a social studies project which seems to be about traditions of cultures from around the world. These two things in addition to the African art (and even the moon cycle and comics) help the book tie into different subjects. Lasly, Hale’s use of imagery throughout the book makes for a perfect reading or writing mentor text.

Discussion Questions: What clues were there that Mr. Chu was a were-hyena and not a werewolf?; Predict as you read about who you think the alpha were-hyena is. Were you right? What clues did you miss?; Benny and Carlos went about solving the mystery in a quite dangerous way. How would you have done it?

Free discussion guide and activities can also be found on Bruce’s website!

Flagged Passages: “As I reached for my final item, the mauled tennis show, Mr. Chu surprised me. He peeled back his lips and growled–a serious growl, like a Doberman giving one last warning before taking off your arm. His eyes rolled upward, showing only the whites, which totally creeped me out.

All the little hairs on my body stood straight up. It felt like someone had dumped a six-gallon Slushie down my back.” (p. 6)

Author’s Guest Post!: I asked Bruce his formula for writing creepy books for kids, and he shared these secrets with us!

“Scaring kids for fun and profit”

When my wife and I were sharing the movies from childhood that really creeped us out, I couldn’t wait to show her The Omega Man, a movie that gave me nightmares when I was young. “This’ll knock your socks off,” I told her. When we watched it, however, we both burst out laughing at the cheesy special effects and stilted dialog. (To be honest, her movie, Monkey Shines, was no 28 Days Later either.)

That got me thinking. Tastes change. What scares kids can be quite different from what scares adults. And when it comes to writing creepy tales for the younger set, it’s good to bear three things in mind.

It’s the antici…pation

Master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock famously said, “There’s no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” Writing scary stuff for kids isn’t just about piling on the startling scares; it’s largely about setting up expectations. That’s where true suspense lies. For example, if a kid is walking down a dark street and suddenly a monster pops out, that’s a surprise. Suspenseful? Not so much.

However, if everyone tells your young hero that something has been making neighborhood pets disappear, and that they’ve heard strange growls outside at night, that sets up an expectation. Then, when she’s forced to take a nighttime walk, it will be fraught with the terrors of her imagination. Every twig that snaps, every shadow that looms becomes a threat. And after all that anticipation, when the monster finally shows, the suspense goes off the charts.

Hold the murder

A dash of violence is fine, if it stays on the cartoony side. But when writing for middle-graders, it’s best to stay away from explicit murder and bloodshed. Kids that age can’t handle it. Or if you must get gory, see if you can keep most of the bloodletting offstage. Even the Goosebumps books, which were spooky to the max, didn’t feature any onstage murder.

Of course, just because nobody’s getting killed doesn’t mean you can’t make things scary. Close calls, chases, betrayals and so forth will keep the fear factor going just fine. And your readers won’t miss the murder.

Find the safety in scariness

When I was a kid, I reveled in scary movies—heck, I even had a shelf-full of hand painted classic monsters like Wolf-Man and The Mummy. But I liked the movies best when they weren’t too scary. It’s the same thing for young readers today. There’s a limit to how much actual, pulse-pounding terror is appropriate for 8-12 year-olds.

That’s why, when I wrote The Curse of the Were-Hyena, I deliberately sought a balance between humor and chills. By leavening the scariness with jokes, I made it less threatening. Of course, the trick is to find that happy balance. Make it too jokey, and the creepiness is lost. Make it too scary, and your readers hide under the covers.

If you manage to pull off all three of these things, you just might have crafted a scary tale that keeps young readers glued to your pages. Whether they roll their eyes when they re-read it as adults is another matter entirely.

Read This If You Loved: Goosebumps (series) by RL Stine, Bailey School Kids (series) by Marcia T. Jones and Debbie Dadey

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The Full Moon of the Were-Hyena Howling Good Giveaway!

Ten winners will receive a copy of Bruce Hale’s The Curse of the Were-Hyena. Four Grand Prize winners will receive The Curse of the Were-Hyena plus an advance reading copy of the second book in the series, Mutant Mantis Lunch Ladies! And as a bonus, Grand Prize winners will also get a signed photo of Bruce Hale disguised as a were-wolf! Click here to enter.

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**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for hosting the tour and providing a copy for review!!**

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burning

Burning
Author: Danielle Rollins
Published: April 5, 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Children’s

Summary: After three years in juvie, Angela Davis is just a few months shy of release, and she’ll finally be free from the hole that is Brunesfield Correctional Facility. Then Jessica arrives. Only ten years old and under the highest security possible, this girl has to be dangerous, even if no one knows what she did to land in juvie. As strange things begin happening to Angela and her friends that can only be traced to the new girl’s arrival, it becomes clear that Brunesfield is no longer safe. They must find a way to get out, but how can they save themselves when the world has forgotten them?

Review: This book was the perfect balance between realistic, interesting characters and chilling, creepy fantastic characters. From the first moment that I met Jessica, my skin began to crawl. Angela, the narrator, is pushing a mop in Seg in the juvenile hall. Jessica is mysterious and quite scary. I was frightened right along with Angela! I love how the characters are developed. While the book is definitely fantastic, I felt genuinely connected with the characters and their stories. I’d use this book as a bridge to help students who love realistic fiction. It would help them explore different genres. The book ends with a hook, and I imagined that Rollins has a sequel in the works! I am very excited to read it!

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: I imagine that this book will create genuine interest in juvenile halls. I’d ask students to explore and research their own juvenile halls. They might also examine privilege and how the characters’ home lives seems to play a role in the fact that they are in the correctional facility. This would offer an interesting class discussion.

Discussion Questions: Does Angela make good choices in this book? What are some of the choices she makes, and do you think she makes the right decisions? Is she a moral person?; Most of the characters in this book are female. Consider all of the male characters and determine what their role is. How do they add to the story?

We Flagged: “I’m so focused on the blinking red light that I don’t notice the skeletally thin girl in the cell to my left until she skitters across the floor on her hands and knees” (p. 51).

Read This If You Loved: The Merciless by Danielle Vega, Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, Anything by Stephen King; Juvie Three by Gordon Korman

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Halloween Button 2015

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because The Broke and Bookish are particularly fond of lists (as are we!). Each week a new Top Ten list topic is given and bloggers can participate.

 Today’s Topic: Scariest Topics

These topics give us nightmares.

Ricki

1. Serial Killers

Ever since I was very young, I’ve found the idea of serial killers to be terrifying. Books about this topic scare me!

2. Death of Family Members

Because this is my greatest fear, reading about others who have lost family members makes me feel a wealth of terrifying emotions.

3. Drownings

Luckily, many books don’t feature drownings. When I was about five years old, I almost drowned, so reading drowning scenes makes me very frightened.

4. Bugs

I am embarrassed to say that I am very frightened by ladybugs. If a book has a bug scene, I flip a few pages.

5. Scenes in the Woods at Night

Do the woods creep anyone else out? I won’t go camping with my husband because of it.

Kellee

1. Realistic Apocalypse

I can read dystopian books without ever being afraid, but a realistic apocalypse in a novel freaks me out because there is such a chance those events could happen. The Living and Life As We Knew It are the ones that scare me the most.

2. Poltergeists

I don’t believe in ghosts, but I don’t not believe in ghosts, so realistic ghost stories with freaky poltergeists can give me some interesting dreams.

3. School Shootings

As a school teacher, this is too close to home.

4. Breaking & Entering & Killing

This is a real life fear, so anytime it is in a book, it really freaks me out.

5. Children Dying

No words for how terrifying this is. Sad and scary.

What topics give you nightmares?

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merciless

The Merciless
Author: Danielle Vega
Published: June 12th, 2014 by Razorbill (TODAY!)

Summary: Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned.

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.
 
Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.
 
Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls … unless she wants to be next…
 
In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?

Review: My skin crawls as I try to determine what I should write for this review. I started this book in my car. My son was sleeping in the car seat, and I didn’t want to wake him. Once he woke up, I didn’t want to leave the car. I read through all of his naps and kept reading after he went to bed. I couldn’t handle the suspense! The back of this book says, “For mature audiences only,” and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there is a lot of violence and a lot of blood. I am not an avid reader of the horror genre, but I greatly enjoyed getting sucked into this story. It isn’t just a simple horror novel, either. Readers will truly ponder evil and whether it exists within us all.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: Danielle Vega does an excellent job showing group think (or mob mentality). I would ask students to research this topic and consider why humans are naturally inclined to follow a group. They might consider times in history when group think was detrimental and dangerous. This is a psychological thriller, and students will likely enjoy investigating the power balance and actions between the girls in this book.

Discussion Questions: How does religion influence the girls’ decisions and actions? What role does religion play in the book?; Which characters are truly evil?; Do you agree with Sofia’s decisions at the end of the book? What might you do differently, and why?

We Flagged: “It’s a cat. A dead cat. Skin’s been peeled away from the cat’s body in strips. Flies buzz around its head and inside its mouth, crawling over its tongue and teeth. Red paint clings to the stiff grass beneath the cat’s body, and candles surround it, cemented to the ground in pools of black wax. It takes a minute for me to see that the paint is in the shape of a star, with a black candle at each point—like a ritual” (7).

Please note: The above quotes are from the Advanced Reader Copy. The quotes may change when the book is published.

Read This If You Loved: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, Anything by Stephen King

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Halloween

NF PB 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

encyclopedia

Encyclopedia Horrifica: The Terrifying TRUTH! About Vampires, Ghosts, Monsters and More!
Author: Joshua Gee
Published August 1st, 2007 by Scholastic

Goodreads Summary: Bursting with eerie photos and Special Investigations, a nonfiction compendium of all things ghoulish and ghastly–from Aliens to Zombies!

Vampires, ghosts, monsters, and more–Encyclopedia Horrifica invites you to join our quest for the terrifying truth about all things ghoulish and ghastly. But beware! Surprises lurk at the turn of every page. . . .

Discover a time line of ALIEN LIFE on earth–beginning 4 billion years ago! Meet a man recruited by the U.S. government to become a PSYCHIC SUPERSPY. Spend a dark and stormy night with professional GHOSTBUSTERS. Visit a mysterious library in search of DRACULA’s shocking origins. Witness new photos of the actual sea monster that inspired the mythical KRAKEN. And much more!

My Review: This book is full of crazy information that students are going to love. Information about ghosts, aliens, zombies, pixies, mummies, and crazy other things. The book is a perfect mix of text and photos/illustrations that will keep middle grade readers turning the pages.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This book will find a happy home in the classroom and school libraries of middle schools around the world.

Discussion Questions: Do you believe in _____?; Pick one of the historical elements of the book and research it. What did you learn? What is your conclusion about the historical mystery?

We Flagged: Some of my favorite parts of the book are:

Ghost or Hoax? A section where the reader must decide if the photos being shared are a real ghost or just a hoax.

Q&A Sections There are sections throughout the book filled with questions and answers from paranormal people like a psychic spy and “Professor Paranormal” who knows all you want to know about the afterlife.

The Top Five Most Horrific Hoaxes Exactly what it sounds like and so interesting!

Read This If You Loved: Ghost stories, Nonfiction books about ghosts and monsters

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