Tales to Keep You Up at Night by Dan Poblocki, illustrated by Marie Bergeron

Published by Penguin Workshop

Summary:  Amelia and her family are cleaning out her grandmother’s house after Grandma mysteriously disappeared more than a year ago (as Grandpa did a few years before).  She finds a book in the attic entitled Tales to Keep You Up at Night, which looks vaguely familiar to her.  After realizing that she had a dream about her grandmother warning her not to read the book, she goes ahead and reads it anyway.  The reader experiences the stories with her, gradually realizing that they are all connected, and, in between, sharing Amelia’s slowly dawning horror as she starts to notice different elements of the story coming to life around her.  By the time she’s finished the book she knows what’s happened to her grandparents, regrets reading it, and has a pretty terrible decision to make about what to do next.  272 pages; grades 5-8.

Pros:  Having worked in 11 schools, I feel I can pretty definitively say that kids love horror.  I wish I loved it too, so that it was not such torture for me to read a book like this, but I read it (you’re welcome), and it is very scary.  And very well done.  Poblocki cleverly weaves a wide variety of stories into the main narrative and ties them all together in a satisfying way.  It definitely lives up to its title, and those horror-loving kids will not be disappointed.

Cons:  I’ve always associated Dan Poblocki with more YA literature, but I saw this recommended for elementary so decided to give it a try.  I was on the fence until I got to the last story (“Nite Crawlers”), which led to my grades 5-8 recommendation. Yikes.

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