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THE RETURN OF SKELETON MAN

Author: Joseph Bruchac

Illustrator: Sally Wern Comport

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Publisher: HarperTrophy, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, ©2006

Material: paperback

Summary: When Molly's dad has to attend a conference at Mohonk Mountain House, everyone goes along for a vacation. A self-contained resort, Mohonk seemed like the perfect place for the family to move on with their lives after the ordeal of being kidnapped by and escaping from Skeleton Man. But it is late October, and Halloween and the Day of the Dead are approaching. Little things start happening. Are they clues or is Molly over-reacting? This is the second title in this horror series for upper elementary students.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, independent reading, early reader, remedial reader

Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 9 to 12

Interest Level: 8 to 12

Reading Level: 3.8

Age of Child: Reviewed by a student at North Junior High School, St. Cloud, MN, as part of the Use Your ABCs program.

Young Reader Reaction: The book was Okay. I have not read the first book before, so I didn't know what was going on in the beginning. Once I got started reading more, I got it and started to like it more. I picked this book because the cover looked good. After the first chapter of the book I was kind of confused but I was starting to like the book slowly. I learned to always watch your back.

Adult Reader Reaction: This book surprised me. Given how many times I saw the word "horror," and Molly's initial description of last year's events, I had expected something far more gruesome. Instead, I enjoyed a story that was comparable to an Edgar Allen Poe book: full of suspense and mystery, but not explicitly gory. I loved how the author incorporated both Native American and Latin American folklore.

Pros: Kids who love ghost stories and Halloween will love this fast-paced story.
Student reviewer: this book has a lot of action that made me not want to put it down during the last couple of chapters.

Cons: None.
Student reviewer: You have to read the first book to get the beginning of the story.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a well-paced, interesting story that upper-elementary and middle school kids will enjoy. Given the setting of Halloween, it's likely to be a seasonal read.

If You Liked This Book, Try: CASSIE'S CREEPY CANDY STORE   MYSTERIOUS THRILLS AND CHILLS   MASON

Educational Themes: The author offers enough detail about Mexican and Native American folklore that you could explore some of those stories. You can also build on the themes and traditions surrounding Halloween and the Day of the Dead.

Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level 3.8. The publisher donated a copy of this book to the Reading Tub, Inc. This is an unsolicited donation.

Literary Categories: Fiction - horror, suspense, series book

Date(s) Reviewed: September 2008, November 2009

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