Books in Brief: It’s Not Halloween…
But it’s fun to be scared all year round….
The Okay Witch
By Emma Steinkellner
2019, Aladdin, $12.99
Grades 4 and up
This middle grade graphic novel will really appeal to those readers enjoying Raina Telgemeier, Shannon Hale, and Svetlana Chmakova but like a supernatural story. Moth doesn’t know she is a witch, though she lives in a town that despises witchcraft and has a history that dates back to an era reminiscent of the Salem Witch Trials. As Moth tries to learn about her magical side, even though her mother refuses to teach her about it, she learns a lot about her family and about what magic is. The fun and vibrant artwork—especially the bright and bold colors—keeps the story popping. This isn’t a spooky title per se, but it has a lot of suspense and tension built in. It also has a ton of humor. This is a great read for those who like a hodgepodge of humor, fantasy, and suspense with a touch of feel-good.
Just Beyond: Scare School
By R.L. Stine and Kelly & Nichole Matthews (art)
2019, Kaboom!, $9.99
Grades 3 and up
R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps have been adapted to comics, and now he has created an original comic. This master horror storyteller came out with a spooky scary tale in typical Goosebumps fashion this past fall. Three kids try to escape and almost get lost in a regular school before the Drogg beats them at their game and brings them back. Meanwhile, another kid senses some of the oddness and other strange things in school. It all comes together in a fast-paced, heart-racing tale. The artwork complements the story with both dark and light tones to give readers that scary feeling with safe-at-home bits in between. For fans of horror and R.L. Stine, this is a must read.
Five Nights at Freddy’s The Silver Eyes: Graphic Novel
By Scott Cawthon, Claudia Schroder, and Kira Breed-Wrisley
2019, Graphix, $12.99
Grades 4 and up
This novel was insanely popular in our Scholastic book orders a couple of years ago. Now it’s a graphic novel, and readers looking for a spooky read in a real Goosebumps (yes, I’m still talking R.L. Stine, see above) fashion will want this title. Four young adults reunite in their hometown to commemorate the anniversary of the disappearance of their long-time friend. The group reminisces about that time, and their reminiscing takes them back to where it all happened. There they discover that weirdness is still going on, and the group slowly uncovers what really happened all those years ago to their friend. The storytelling is careful and builds suspense. The artwork (which was hard to judge as this was a preview copy) was easygoing and yet helped build suspense as the story unraveled. A great middle-grade spook fest title that mixes horror and suspense.
About Esther Keller
Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. She also curates the Graphic Novel collection for the NYC DOE Citywide Digital Library. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.
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