Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: May, 2013
Genre/Format: Paranormal Mystery/Middle Grade Novel
GoodReads Summary: Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends for ever. They love playing with their action figure toys, imagining a magical world of adventure and heroism. But disaster strikes when, without warning, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’s too old for them. Zach is furious, confused and embarrassed, deciding that the only way to cope is to stop playing . . . and stop being friends with Poppy and Alice. But one night the girls pay Zach a visit, and tell him about a series of mysterious occurrences. Poppy swears that she is now being haunted by a china doll – who claims that it is made from the ground-up bones of a murdered girl. They must return the doll to where the girl lived, and bury it. Otherwise the three children will be cursed for eternity . . .
What I Think: I've been letting this book sink in for a while now. First of all, isn't the cover just creepingly lovely? It's spooky in such a beautiful way...although a little more on the creepy side than not. What has really stuck with me after reading this book are the characters. Holly Black does a wonderful job of developing her three main characters in this book. She captures them just as they are at a pivotal moment of growing up. The story of the china doll keeps them together when life tries to grow them apart. Growing up is a part of life but managing adolescence isn't always easy.
As a mentor text, I love this book for pulling great snatches of text for description. Whether she is describing the characters in the book or the setting, Holly does a great job of bringing it all to life in such a real way. She strikes me as being brutally honest with her description. I think this is something that students will appreciate and relate to because she is so detailed and honest about the main characters' lives. She brings the setting to life in such a way that I couldn't help but feel the creepiness in the air as well. All the description came together so well to build the tone and mood of the whole story.
Read Together: Grades 5 - 8
Read Alone: Grades 6 - 8
Read With: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo, Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks, Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol, The Raven Boys (series) by Maggie Stiefvater, Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
Snatch of Text:
"The inside of Poppy's house was always a mess. Discarded clothes, half-empty cups, and sports equipment covered most surfaces. Her parents seemed to have given up on the house around the same time they gave up on trying to enforce any rules about dinners and bedtimes and fighting - around Poppy's eighth birthday, when one of her brothers threw her cake with its still-life birthday candles at her older sister. There weren't even family meals, just boxes of macaroni and cheese, cans of ravioli, and tins of sardines in the pantry so that the kids could feed themselves long before their parents came home from work and fell, exhausted, into their bed." (p. 7)
"An eerie wind sang through the untrimmed trees in front of Mr. Thompson's old house at the end of the block." (p. 22)
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Making Inferences
Writing Strategies to Practice: Personal Narrative, Descriptive, Characterization
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when realized you were growing up or changing in some way.
Topics Covered: Friendship, Family, Imagination, Loyalty, Determination, Trust, Growing Up
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