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A Middle Grade Mystery – The Haunting of Hounds Hollow by Jeffrey Salane

THE HAUNTING OF HOUNDS HOLLOW
Written by Jeffrey Salane
(Scholastic Press; $16. 99, Ages 8-12)

 

book cover illustration from The Haunting of Hounds Hollow by Jeffrey Salane

 

 

The middle grade novel, The Haunting of Hounds Hollow by Jeffrey Salane, is a recommended read for chilly, dark winter evenings. When Lucas Trainer’s family inherits a house from an almost-forgotten relative they move from the comforting familiarity of the big city to Hounds Hollow. For Lucas, making new friends means explaining his undiagnosed disease (his parents call it the Dark Cloud). Adjusting to being in the middle of nowhere is complicated by their crazy new mansion—akin to the Winchester Mystery House with rooms that lead to nowhere and a construction crew that doesn’t stop building.

The town’s history of people disappearing coupled with what may be a roaming pack of malevolent ghost dogs is enough to scare anyone away, but Lucas and his two new friends, Bess and Lens, decide they must uncover what’s going on before it’s too late. Lucas has a mysterious key that he hopes will unlock secrets from the past that continue to have hold of the house and its environs.

This book is suited for kids who like plots that delve into horror. The Haunting of Hounds Hollow takes some dark turns, particularly at the end. If you think your kid will grow into a fan of stories like Stephen King’s Pet Sematary then this tale will not disappoint.

  • Reviewed by Christine Van Zandt

Writer, editor, and owner of Write for Success www.Write-for-Success.com

@WFSediting, Christine@Write-for-Success.com

A Very Witchy Spelling Bee by George Shannon – Reviews

A Very Witchy Spelling Bee

A Very Witchy Spelling Bee written by George Shannon with illustrations by Mark Fearing from Harcourt Children's Books is perfect for Halloween!

A Very Witchy Spelling Bee written by George Shannon with illustrations by Mark Fearing from Harcourt Children’s Books is perfect for Halloween!

In A Very Witchy Spelling Bee, (Harcourt Children’s Books, $16.99, Ages 4-8) written by George Shannon and illustrated by Mark Fearing, reviewed today by Rita Zobayan, Cordelia is a young witch with aspirations. Not content with practicing spelling words (“Mama, please pass, P-A-S-S, the broccoli”) and magic spells at home, she has her sights set on winning the Witches’ Double Spelling Bee. “I’ve studied. I’ve practiced. I’m ready to win!” she declares to her mother. However, the current champion, a one very nasty Beulah Divine, is delighted to best Cordelia with whatever it takes!

This clever wordplay story—which can encourage interest in word spelling—unfolds as Cordelia and the other contestants compete in the Bee.  The contestants must pull a letter and using that letter, change an object into something new. Witch Opal changes ice into mice and mage Madge changes a lock into a clock. But how will Cordelia beat Beulah, who is not only much, much older but also much, much sneakier? Readers will love the twist at the end.

Mark Fearing’s illustrations are spot on. Filled with bright colors and vivid depictions (green witches with warts and moles, anyone?), the art work is fun and just scary enough for young readers. Spiders, cobwebs, and all manner of witchy accoutrements are scattered throughout the book, providing a howling good time in searching for them.

A Very Witchy Spelling Bee is an engaging story that demonstrates how aspiration and competition don’t have to include poor sportswitchship, S-P-O-R-T-W-I-T-CH-S-H-I-P.

Hailey Twitch is Not a Snitch!

9781402224447-mToday’s guest reviewer is soon-to-be fifth grader, Kate, editor Carolyn Graham’s daughter. In her free time, Kate enjoys music, swimming and especially her dog Olive. She read this new book, Hailey Twitch is Not a Snitch by L auren Barnholdt with illustrations by Susan Beaky (Sourcebooks, $6.99 ages 6-9) and had this to say:

This book is an easy-to-read book. It’s about a 7 year-old girl who meets a fairy (Maybelle) who wants to have fun, but keeps getting into trouble. I like the storyline of a fairy and a girl. Even though I liked it, I think it could’ve been more descriptive.

Editor’s Note: If your daughter likes a feisty young heroine coupled with a classic magic and mayhem tale, this is indeed the book for her!

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