This villainous murder mystery takes place on a train as twins Joe and Nancy try to rescue their parents while encountering a cast of characters that includes a talking pig, mad scientists, explosions and shape-shifters. The most amazing part of this fun mystery is how it got created. Each famous author added a chapter, picking up where the previous one had left off and adding twists and turns for the next writer to play with.
“Skary Childrin and the Carousel of Sorrow” by Katy Towell. Age 8 and older.
This is a book about a dark and stormy night . . . well, actually 12 dark and stormy days and nights that ripped apart the town of Widowsbury (say it out loud). Now 12 years later, three girls — Adelaide, Maggie and Beatrice — must try to prevent a return of that curse. The problem is the three are singled out at Madame Gertrude’s School for Girls as “scary children.” You might forgive the other students for thinking this: Adelaide looks like a werewolf, Maggie has incredible strength and Beatrice can see ghosts. But when people start disappearing from the town, the girls may be their only hope.
“Here Lies Linc”
by Delia Ray.
Age 9 and older.
Who doesn’t get just a little bit scared and feel a little bit creeped out in a cemetery? Twelve-year-old Lincoln Crenshaw is who. His mom is a college professor who studies ancient burial rituals as part of her job. So poor Linc has been dragged to so many cemeteries during his childhood that they’re about as exciting as, well, the grocery store. But when Linc transfers to a new school and discovers that the mandatory class assignment is a trip to the local cemetery, he unearths some secrets about his family. Be sure to read the “headstones” that mark each chapter. Some are funny, some are sad; all are real.
“Substitute Creacher” by Chris Gall. Age 5 and older.
This is a picture book about the day that Miss Jenkins’s class had a substitute — a substitute “creacher,” that is. But before you hand it off to your little brother or sister, sit with it for a bit. The illustrations are pure eye candy, and some of them may remind you of pages from an “I Spy” book. Plus the story, told in rhyme, has a surprise ending worthy of the holiday!
“Ghost Hunt 2” by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson. Age 9 and older.
Not surprisingly, this is a sequel to “Ghost Hunt,” and it continues the theme of investigating “real” ghost cases. Authors Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson claim to be ghost hunters, and in this book they offer stories about the ghosts of inmates at Alcatraz prison and the idea that the ocean can be haunted. These stories are definitely scary, but don’t take them too seriously. After all, ghosts aren’t real. Are they?
— Tracy Grant