Published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Summary: Sixth-grader Ollie is off to a rough start in school following the tragic death of her mother. Seeking an escape after school one day, she wanders through the woods until she meets up with a distraught woman trying to throw a book into the river. Ollie rescues the book, entitled Small Spaces, and is soon caught up in the story of a woman whose husband sold his soul to “the smiling man”. When Ollie’s class takes a field trip to a nearby farm, she soon notices many similarities between the story in her book and the history of the farm. When the bus breaks down and is surrounded by a strange mist, Ollie decides to go get help. Coco and Brian, two kids she’s had reasons to dislike at school, join her, and the three slowly become friends as they fight for their lives against ghosts, scarecrows, and other evil forces before finally confronting the smiling man in the heart of his cornfield maze. Ollie is the only one who is able to defeat him, and in doing so, she is able to acknowledge her grief about her mother and begin to move forward with her new friends. 224 pages; grades 4-7.
Pros: Those ready to move on from Goosebumps will enjoy this truly creepy tale that offers many heart-pounding, suspenseful moments before the final showdown between Ollie and the smiling man.
Cons: I will never look at scarecrows the same way again.