Monday, September 17, 2012

"All I want is a dark, scary book."

I finished Code Name Verity. And now I'm going to have to read it again, because it didn't occur to me until the end, when I was crying, that everything I'd been reading had been riddled with clues, and I missed nearly all of them. The prose almost seemed too unwieldy to me, and now I realize each word was precisely chosen by the character (and by the author) to tell something very important.

Have you ever seen The Great Escape? If you liked that movie, you should read this book. And there is even a bit of romance! I love romance! (There is a bit of profanity—it is definitely a YA—but it did not feel excessive to me in the least.)
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Now I'm ready for Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz. A million starred reviews. A little creepy so far, but good. And speaking of creepy...

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I took Shaemus to the library on Saturday. I had a parent teacher conference with his teacher on Friday, and we talked a bit about writing and reading and books for boys. She complained about the lack of books for boys similar to the Clementine series. "They're all Captain Underpants," she said. "Or, Horrible Harry's. They don't take kids—boys—seriously."

She's right—there aren't a lot of chapter books for boys that are ready for more than Nate the Great, but not ready for full novels with few pictures.

Shaemus is in that phase right now. He wants a picture on every page, but he's ready for longer books with lots of pages. The pictures don't need to be big—he just doesn't want to see a lot of words on a page.

We struggled at the library. I held up books about pets, animals, sweet-looking boys that get in to all sorts of trouble. He didn't want any of it.

"How about a mystery?" I said. "You like mysteries."

"Not any more," he said. "I want dark, scary mysteries."

"Dark, scary mysteries?" I said with a wee bit of skepticism. Shaemus isn't the bravest of boys.

"Not even mysteries," he said. "I just want dark, scary books."

Eventually he found one (just one!). And the funny thing is, there are lots of words on the page. This is definitely a middle grade novel for younger readers. Not a chapter book. And every so often, that day and the next, I heard, "I finished chapter four, Mom! It's super good." And, "Only three chapters left, Mom, I love it!"

I was very hands off in this process, other than trying to help him find dark, scary books with pictures on every page, which didn't really exist.

This was a good learning experience for me. We so often force books on kids. Me too—I'm probably a hundred times guilty of this. But I listened to Shaemus this time, really listened, and he told me what he wanted, and we went to great lengths to find it.

Later that day, he told me he wanted to get a new book for a reward I'd promised him. Well, a book is a lot more money than the candy bar I was originally thinking of, but I pretended that it wasn't, and we got on Amazon to look up a dark, scary book for Shaemus to read. We found two series we're going to give a try when they arrive (so okay, I got him two books—a lot more money than a candy bar). If any of you know of any dark, scary books for 6-9 year olds, with a fair amount of pictures—pass them on!!!

Here are the books we ordered:

The Trouble With Squids by Julie Berry (part of the Splurch Academy series)
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The Ghosthunter series by Cornelia Funke
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And Shaemus's new dark and scary favorite, the one he chose from the library:

The Smuggler's Mine from the Something Wickedly Weird series by Chris Mould. There are lots more titles in this series. I've got to read one out loud to him and see what I think. But apparently it is just the right amount of dark and scary (which can't be much, knowing him!).
The Smugglers' Mine (Something Wickedly Weird)

1 comment:

  1. I was just reading through a backlog of your posts here... :)

    What about the A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy? They're a little more on the 'mystery' side than the 'dark, creepy' side... but there are a few books in the series that are both. You don't have to read them in order, and there are a few that are a bit more on the creepy side. Maybe start him with 'Zombie Zone' and see if he gets hooked. :)

    Good luck!