Friday, October 13, 2017


I'm always keeping an eye out for good middle grade reading material that will spark an interest in my kids to want to pick up a book.  Laura Terry's debut graphic novel, GRAVEYARD SHAKES, fits the bill with its quirky tale of a haunted boarding school.  Vibrant illustrations compliment a story that is a perfect read for a child wanting to immerse themselves in the Halloween season but is also a compelling read anytime of the year for kids who enjoy a good ghost story.  I appreciated how the artwork of this graphic novel draws kids into reading the story rather than overshadowing the text.

The plot of GRAVEYARD SHAKES revolves around two sisters, Katia and Victoria, who are new students at the prestigious Bexley Academy.  Both are having a hard time fitting into their new surroundings.  All their classmates talking about the place being haunted by ghosts from the nearby graveyard that scare students from the boarding school to death doesn't help either.

An argument between the sisters one stormy night brings them to the dreaded graveyard where they discover the spirits aren't tall tales and actually are real.   Katia and Victoria discover that while the ghosts have been pranking the students at Bexley Academy they haven't been the ones harming them.  There is something much more sinister going on!

For years a distraught father has been keeping his sickly son from dying by kidnapping Bexley Academy students and transferring their life force into the boy through black magic.  It hasn't been the ghosts killing these students but rather the father who can't bear to say goodbye to his son.  His efforts though have not only ended the lives of innocent kids but turned his own child into an undead zombie dependent on souls for his continued existence.  Watch out Katia and Victoria because someone has his eyes on your souls!

While this plot may sound terrifying, GRAVEYARD SHAKES is more in the tone of Casper the Friendly Ghost hijinks than horror film scary.  If a kid can handle R.L. Stine's Goosebumps books without having nightmares they should be just fine reading GRAVEYARD SHAKES.  There are plot elements meant to make the graphic novel a scary story that include children being kidnapped and killed as well as kids turning into ghosts after they die so parental guidance is recommended to assure readers have the appropriate maturity to be exposed to these topics plus the content is within a family's own comfort level.  There is no sexual content, swearing or stomach churning gory scenes and you'll probably see more violence in a PG rated movie than what is contained within the pages of GRAVEYARD SHAKES.  I let my own kids read the book but as a caveat not right before bedtime.

Published by the Graphix imprint of Scholastic, GRAVEYARD SHAKES is a spooky good read especially around Halloween.  It is available as an e-book as well as in paperback and hardcover print editions.  GRAVEYARD SHAKES is available at most retailers including Barnes & Nobles, Books A Million, Target, Walmart and of course

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