Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sufficiently Creepy; The Books of Elsewhere by Jacqueline West

One day at work our lovely library volunteer was reading behind the desk.  If I didn't have to teach classes I'd be doing the same thing.  She had a book checked out from the public library from their "Just Arrived" shelf and she was fascinated.  It was elementary fiction and one that I hadn't heard of at that time.  It was The Shadows, the first book in West's new series. 


Olive and her parents move into a creepy old house on Linden Street.  The house has some history as the previous elderly owner died while living there and all the household stuff stayed right there.  Olive, a curiuos girl, finds  a pair of old fashioned glasses that help her enter the oil paintings stuck to the wall all around the house.  She meets the people in the paintings, she meets three cats who belonged to the previous owners and life gets downright creepy as she tries to solve one little boy's mysterious existence inside a painting of Linden Street.  As per adventure stories her parents are busy with their own lives, leaving Olive plenty of free time to explore. 

It begins like this:
Mrs. McMartin was definitely dead.  It had taken some time for the neighbors to grow suspicious, since no one ever went in or came out of the old stone house on Linden Street anyway.  However, there were several notable clues that things in the McMartin house were not as they should have been.  (1)
Great first sentence.  Perfect hook for young readers. 

The second book in the series, Spellbound, has Olive drifting around the house aimlessly, trying to think of ways to rescue Morton, the trapped young boy.  She meets another young boy, Rutherford, who is visiting his grandmother right down the street.  He gets her thinking about a spellbook-a grimoire-as he puts it.  Olive now has a purpose as she tries to find a way to release Morton and she thinks the spellbook might be the answer. 

A little further on:
There was another reason Olive didn't tell anybody about the cats or the paintings or the McMartins.  She always put this reason second, even in her own head, but the truth was that her secrets would be a lot less fun if she shared them with anyone.  Sure, a candy bar tasted good if you ate one half and let your dad have the other, but it was much, much nicer to eat the whole candy bar by yourself.  (5)
Perfect thoughts for an eleven-year-old girl to have.  There is so much mystery and excitement in both these books.  I hope West is hard at work on the third-I think we've only touched the surface of this new amazing Elsewhere! 

Wonderully illustrated by Poly Bernatene.  I've easily been able to read these and book talk them as we have them in our library collection now.  It's wonderful to have someone here helping me everyday who likes to read and shares that with me and students.

Find Jacqueline West at her great website.

Other reviews:
Kimberly at Cool Kids Read
Jennifer at Jean Little Library

*Not to be read late at night or by yourself*

1 comment:

TheBookGirl said...

These do look good -- your library volunteer sounds like a wonderful asset :)