Friday the 13th reads
What are kids reading these days?
When I was young, nothing creeped me out more than a good ghost story. Alvin Schwartz' "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" series was pretty much perfect: Classic, bare-bones tales that scared or surprised you at different turns -- and don't even get me started on those creepy illustrations by Stephen Gammell. I mean, just LOOK at that picture!
Of course, that series ended in 1991, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that today's spooky books are quite a bit different. Beyond the classics-turned-horror stories, ala "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Undead," we've got the Skeleton Creek series.
Aimed at kids in sixth grade and up, these books aren't so scary on their own. But when paired with the official website, which provides video footage of the story's creepier plot points ... well, let's just say I jumped a time or two. While reading the book, in this case "Skeleton Creek: The Crossbones," you're given passwords to access the short films. While the book is written as the journal of one character, the clips are made by another.
The videos themselves use tried-and-true methods for those scares, of course: Quiet scenes to amp up the tension, followed by fast cuts to a ghostly visage, underscored by screeching music and panicky breathing. Still, it's a lot of fun, if you don't mind reading your book in front of a computer.
But the nice part is the history that author Patrick Carman stuffs into his book. The Winchester Mystery House, ghost stories by Daniel Defoe and Thomas Jefferson are seamlessly woven into the action, and the nerd in me really enjoyed those aspects. So don't be surprised if you catch your kids on Youtube, and they tell you they're reading. It's actually kind of the truth!