By GLENN TOLLE
I’ve never been very interested in bikes. I learned to ride a bike when I was eight, but that’s only because my dad bribed me with spooky Scooby-Doo trading cards. My dad, on the contrary, loves riding bikes and loves to coast around town in the early mornings or evenings. My dad had a paper route when he was a kid; it wasn’t much of a job, but he got to coast around town so it was worth it for him.
My dad’s love of cycling and my love of horror make unlikely companions in THE HEADLESS BICYCLE RIDER, the third book in the GRAVEYARD SCHOOL series, written by Tom B. Stone and published by SKYLARK in 1994. We meet Algernon Green, or Algie as most know him. He is a smart kid with a head for business and computer games and makes money delivering newspapers to people after school. Unfortunately for Algie, he’s also the new kid at Grove Hill Elementary School (nicknamed Graveyard School). This means he is a prime target for Jason, the most popular mean boy in the sixth grade.
Algie’s already worried about losing his life to Jason when he gets a letter and advance pay from Mr. Bates, the legendary axe murderer who lives on Seven Mile Hollow Road, said to be haunted by his (headless). Algie doesn’t know what to do; no matter what….he’s dead. Then everything gets waaayyyyyy worse. Kirstin, the most popular girl in 6th grade, decides she wants run against Jason for class president – and she wants Algie to run her campaign! How will Algie get out alive?
THE HEADLESS BICYCLE RIDER is a nice ride… er, read. The book coasts along, stopping every so often to deliver a few chills, before continuing on. The book makes obvious references to Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO (as well as, incredibly, THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE) and pays obvious and respectful homage to my favourite horror story (next to DRACULA): THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW written by Washington Irving. The character of Algie is every bit a tiny, 20th century, Ichabod Crane – he’s smart, nervous, rides a bike instead of a horse, and looks somewhat odd. Even his name is similar!
You can buy your very own edition of THE HEADLESS BICYCLE RIDER on AMAZON for $5.19, plus free shipping, used, in “Good” condition.
As I finish this edition of FRIGHTS FOR TYKES it’s getting late. If I want to keep my head, I better hurry and wrap this up. Succinctly put, THE HEADLESS BICYCLE RIDER, the third book in the GRAVEYARD SCHOOL series, is perfect for introducing your children to the concept of headless ghosts – a concept which will no doubt frighten them into wearing their bike helmets.