By GLENN TOLLE
In honour of Women in Horror Month, each installment of FRIGHTS FOR TYKES this February will feature frightful fiction written by women for children. This installment showcases a little known book titled THE HAUNTING OF GRADE THREE, written by Grace Maccarone and illustrated by Kelly Oechsli (Scholastic).
The book follows Adam and his classmates Norma, Dan, Debbie, Joey and Chuck as they investigate the strange happenings in Blackwell House. Once the private residence of the Blackwell family but now long abandoned, Blackwell House has been opened back up as a third grade school for Elmwood Elementary. The house is large, very old, and – if the newspaper reports are to be believed – also haunted. Mr. Jenkins, the third grade teacher, knows this all too well.
Back when he was in college, Mr. Jenkins and a friend took refuge in Blackwell House during a storm, only to experience some frightening phenomena which eventually reached the papers. Now, after receiving a teaching position at the notorious abode, Mr. Jenkins decides to get to the bottom of what he and his friend experienced so long ago, and what students begin to also experience.
Adam seems to be the only one genuinely excited about hunting for ghosts at Blackwell House and is convinced that it’s haunted, while everyone else in his group, aren’t as enthusiastic. But they don’t have a choice as the Blackwell House haunting is an assignment that quickly becomes a newsworthy adventure!
I bought this little book along with 65 other books of children’s fright fiction at a book fair a few years back. As the first installment in the THIRD GRADE GHOST HUNTERS series, the book moves briskly, with some chapters at a few pages. The font is large and easy to read and the illustrations are fun, spooky at times, and highlight details that is not necessarily mentioned in the text, details that that young readers can gather with the THIRD GRADE GHOST HUNTERS to solve the mystery. Speaking of the mystery, the Blackwell House haunting is pretty darn creepy. Even though it’s rationally explained away at the end, it will no doubt leave some younger readers wondering.
If you or a young person you know are fans of SCOOBY-DOO, then you will definitely enjoy THE HAUNTING OF GRADE THREE and the THIRD GRADE GHOST HUNTERS series. Much like Scooby Doo and the gang, Adam and his classmates use humour, science and imagination to investigate what goes bump in the night.