Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall

Florence is an orphan who has been sent to live with a long-lost uncle in the English countryside, but something is not right about the estate.  Her cousin James is ill and stays in his room all day and her aunt is still in mourning over the death of Sophia, James' sister, which was nearly a year in the past.  Soon, Florence starts feeling watched and she starts to see and come under Sophia's influence.  Before she knows is, Florence is doing Sophia's bidding, and it is certain that Sophia was not the girl that her aunt described.  How can Florence stop a ghost from continuing to hurt her family?

Mary Downing Hahn has found a formula and she sticks to it.  I remember reading Wait Till Helen Comes when I was young and being scared out of my mind.  That's actually how I booktalk it to readers.  Once they learn I couldn't sleep for a week because of it, they can't wait to read it.  Hahn's books are just spooky enough for young readers that they are appropriately scared, but can't quite make out the ending.  Now, adults can see this coming from a mile away, but Hahn doesn't write for adults.

While this book is completely predictable, I would still recommend it to young readers.  The English countryside is well described and everyone gets exactly what they deserve in the end, so readers will feel good about the action.  Although, the ending does leave a little room for Sophia to come back-not enough for a sequel, just a enough to keep readers thinking.

The nice thing about Hahn's books is that they age well.  Add a spooky new cover and it's ready to go for a whole new generation of readers.  Also, her books are strangely addictive.  I knew from the beginning what would happen, but yet, I kept reading to see exactly how Sophia got what she deserved and see what other wicked characters were taken care of as well.  Also, young readers love to be spooked, but by tidily handling all of the bad guys, Hahn makes it so that everyone can sleep well at night.

In short, if you have a fourth grade readers that likes to be scared, but you don't want them to have nightmares, steer them toward anything by Mary Downing Hahn.

Happy Reading.

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