Scary siblings: SPIRIT HUNTERS by Ellen Oh

Oh, Ellen. Spirit Hunters. Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2017. 276 pages. Hardcover $14.59, ISBN 978-0-06-243008-3; PLB $18.56, ISBN 978-1-54902-786-4

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes!!!!!!!

Genre: Horror

Part of a series? Yes; the Spirit Hunters series is to be continued after this one

Book Summary:

Harper reluctantly moves to a new town and into a new house with her family. Her big sister won’t give her the time of day, and baby brother Michael begins to act strangely. Weird happenings and sudden migraines plague Harper, but she knows better than to mention anything to her mom. ANYTHING out of the ordinary sets her mom off … and with their new proximity to Harper’s grandma (a person that Mom has been avoiding for years), it’s all too easy to upset Mom right now. Is Michael in danger? And is there anything Harper can do about it?

Reader’s Comments:

SO SCARY. I’m terrified of ghost stories, and I almost needed to put this one down 🙂 That said, it’s a delicious story with super spooky elements, and the characters are superb.

Grade Level: 5-8

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Booklist starred, 05/01/17 

Publishers Weekly starred, 05/08/17


Retelling Time! The Jumbies

Baptiste, Tracey. The Jumbies. Algonquin Young Readers, 2015. 234 pages. Hardcover $13.61, ISBN 978-1-61620-414-3; Tr. $5.96, ISBN 978-1-61620-592-8


TL;DR: Do I recommend this? Yes


Genre: Folktale Retellings


Part of a series? No.


Plot Summary:

An intricate tale, Baptiste’s novel adapts a Haitian folktale into a middle grade novel. Corinne isn’t afraid of anything … not the dark, not the bullies, and certainly not the Jumbies that everyone else fears in the forest. As her father says, Jumbies are nothing but a fairytale…until, of course, the day a Jumbie follows her out. Will Severine, the Jumbie woman, steal Corinne’s father from her? Will the Jumbies destroy Corinne’s village? Or will Corinne harness the power within herself to save her family and her people?


Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

A novel about friendship, bravery, and empathy, this story is a powerful addition to any library’s middle grade collection, particularly with a focus on folktale retellings. When so many retellings nowadays reflect Western versions of Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, and other “Disney” topics, this exciting Haitian story (based on “The Magic Orange Tree”) really offers something new. The development of the novel is a bit slow, but once the Jumbies creep out of the forest, the story launches forward, full steam ahead! Hand this one to your readers who want to read fairy tales in a new light.


Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

A fun book club exercise would be to talk about stewardship of the earth. Green activities such as planting something on campus (a tree! Or, if not possible, maybe some flowers or other small plants), holding a recycling drive, or other eco-friendly activity would be a great way to act upon the message of stewardship that runs throughout the novel. (Ideas from myself)


Grade Level: 3-6


Awards and Starred Reviews:



Review referenced:

Bird, E. (2015, Apr. 28). Review of the day: The jumbies by Tracey Baptiste (Review of the book The Jumbies). School Library Journal. Retrieved from

Kirkus Reviews. (2015, Jan. 20). The jumbies (Review of the book The Jumbies). Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from

Publishers Weekly. (2015, Feb. 9). The jumbies (Review of the book The Jumbies). Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from


Catch-up Post: Clockwork, or All Wound Up by Phillip Pullman

I read this over the summer. As I wrote on my main blog,

Clockwork was deliciously creepy! I am a huge scaredy-cat when it comes to creepy reads, and I found myself wondering if I should put it down! I am glad that I didn’t … the eerie story the novelist shares is so gripping! Sir Ironsoul is so frightening! I especially loved the opening, middle, and closing arcs — hearing the rumors about Prince Otto and then seeing what happened to Prince Otto before returning to the end of Karl and Sir Ironsoul’s story was really cool. So glad to have read this one!

I guess I need to work on using fewer exclamation points 🙂

Pullman crafts a fantastic tale, weaving in story elements until they click together and get the whole thing up and running. The eerie illustrations add to the creep factor, and who doesn’t love a scary tavern tale?


  • Gore/blood

Themes/Major Plot Points/Etc.:

  • Storytelling
  • Clockwork
  • Cheating
  • Good and evil
  • Mad scientists
  • Scary