Crossroads

Crossroads

4.5 41
by Chris Grabenstein
     
 

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From the New York Times bestselling author of Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library comes a series of spine-tingling mysteries to keep you up long after the lights go out.

ZACK, HIS DAD, and new stepmother have just moved back to his father’s hometown, not knowing that their new house has a dark history. Fifty years ago, a crazed…  See more details below

Overview

From the New York Times bestselling author of Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library comes a series of spine-tingling mysteries to keep you up long after the lights go out.

ZACK, HIS DAD, and new stepmother have just moved back to his father’s hometown, not knowing that their new house has a dark history. Fifty years ago, a crazed killer caused an accident at the nearby crossroads that took 40 innocent lives. He died when his car hit a tree in a fiery crash, and his malevolent spirit has inhabited the tree ever since. During a huge storm, lightning hits the tree, releasing the spirit, who decides his evil spree isn’t over . . . and Zack is directly in his sights.

Award-winning thriller author Chris Grabenstein fills his first book for younger readers with the same humorous and spine-tingling storytelling that has made him a fast favorite with adults.


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Jean Boreen
Zack Jennings has a highly developed imagination—or does he? Zack can see faces inside trees and he knows what those faces want—to get out of the tree and hurt him. When his father remarries and Zack goes to live in his grandfather's house, he is not necessarily surprised when the tree by the highway gives him a bad feeling. But with his new friend Davy behind him, Zack is determined by become more comfortable in his own shoes. Little does Zack know that the tree harbors a whole bunch of ghosts, all drawn together by the fact that they were all killed in a bus crash in 1958, murdered by a crazed young man bent on destroying the one woman who could keep him from his dreams of millions. That crazed ghost, Clint Eberhart, is back to take his revenge on Zack, the grandson of the police chief who accidentally killed his (Eberhart's) son. What Zack does not know though is that a number of the people he and his new stepmom meet hanging around the highway in front of their house are ghosts who are equally determined to keep Clint from having his way. At times, this is a fairly dark book for younger readers, but it does have enough humor and engaging characters, especially in Zack, to keep them hooked. Most will enjoy the adventure and the tension built as Zack and Davy take on Clint. Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.D.
School Library Journal

Gr 5-8

A well-told ghost story with plenty of twists and chills. Eleven-year-old Zack believes that his mother, who died from cancer, haunts his New York City apartment, continually disapproving of his behavior. He is immensely relieved when Dad marries Judy, a kind woman, and they move to Connecticut. Unfortunately, Zack cannot seem to escape the dead. Shortly after arriving in North Chester, they meet Gerda Spratling, the last survivor of the town's founding family. The abrasive woman mourns the loss of her fiancé, making a weekly pilgrimage to the crossroads outside Zack's yard where a massive oak marks the spot where Clint died almost 50 years ago. When Zack sees this tree, he fears that something evil is trapped within, and after the oak is split open by lightning, it soon becomes apparent that a malevolent spirit has been set free. With the help of Judy and a new friend, Zack takes on the menace that is plaguing their town and riling up a plethora of ghosts. This riveting tale is written in short, easy-to-read chapters, making it a good choice for reluctant readers. Throughout the story, the main characters grow closer to one another and gain heroic traits while the "bad guys" reveal greater depths of wickedness and insanity. Readers will relate to Zack and enjoy the book's scare factor and adventure.-Jessica Miller, New Britain Public Library, CT

Kirkus Reviews
Ghosts vengeful and benevolent, evil possession and dark secrets from the past all figure in this suspenseful page turner destined to grab reluctant readers, especially boys, and R.L. Stine fans. When 11-year-old Zack Jennings moves with his father and new stepmother from New York City to rural Connecticut, he becomes the target of a hateful old woman and the ghost of her 1950s sweetheart, now a body-possessing demon bent on wreaking vengeance on Zack's ancestor by murdering the boy. Brief, fast-paced action chapters, tight plotting, several murders and a sympathetic main character keep things moving, as long-buried clues to the mystery of a tragic accident are revealed with some help from kindly phantoms. One friendly ghost in particular may come as a surprise. Fans of the genre won't mind some of the implausibilities; they'll keep reading. (Fiction. 10-12)
From the Publisher
Starred review, Booklist, May 1, 2008:
"An absorbing psychological thriller . . . as well as a rip-roaring ghost story."

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375849688
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
05/27/2008
Series:
A Haunted Mystery
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
493,633
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Billy O'Claire was doggy-dog tired.
He'd been trying to fix the toilet in the brandnew house for over six hours and the weather outside was extremely hot and muggy, especially for the Friday before Memorial Day.
Billy was sweating up a storm.  Since nobody lived in the new house yet, they hadn't turned on the air-conditioning. His work shirt was a soppy sheet of wet cotton with full-moon stains oozing down below both armpits.
It was nine p.m.
He tightened one last nut, then gave the trip handle on the toilet a flick. Instead of the customary whoosh of water swirling into the bowl, Billy heard a roaring gurgle. The toilet was working backward. He raised the lid and saw a commode burping up chunks of brown gunk. Leaves. Dirt. Twigs.
Nothing else, thank heaven, because nobody had actually used the toilet yet. This woodsy debris had to be seeping in from a cracked sewer line, and Billy realized they might have to rip up the newly sodded lawn to fix a drainpipe ruptured, most likely, by tree roots.
But that was a Monday-morning kind of problem.
Fortunately, it was Friday night and Billy was finished working for the week. He cranked the shutoff valve behind the toilet and went out to the driveway, where he had parked his pickup, the one with O'Claire's Plumbing painted on the door over where it used to say O'Claire's Painting and, before that, O'Claire's Satellite Television Repair.
Billy sat in the cab and drank half a gallon of water out of a glugging plastic jug and aimed two of the truck's air-conditioning vents up at his armpits.
It felt good. Real good.
He yawned and thought about grabbing a quick nap. Instead, he slammed the transmission into reverse and backed out of the driveway, not realizing that something wicked was lurking a little ways down the road--just waiting for the next doggy-dogtired driver to come along.

***

A flashing red stoplight hung suspended over the intersection where County Route 13 crossed Connecticut State Highway 31.
A gigantic oak tree stood near one corner, and its highest branch--as thick around as the trunk of any ordinary tree--suddenly started to move. No wind was blowing. No sports car zooming past had sent up a swirling wake. But the massive limb began to bend and rotate. It sensed an easy target approaching and, longing for a little fun, tore against itself--slowly at first, then with gathering speed. When the final strands ripped free, the bough broke off and fell like a two-ton truck, tearing down the blinking beacon.
Then the tree stopped moving.

***

Billy O'Claire remembered that there used to be a flashing red stoplight hanging over the intersection of 13 and 31. Tonight, however, there wasn't one.
Good.
Billy didn't want to stop.  He needed to find a bathroom. Bad. Chugging half a gallon of water straight from the jug will do that to you. And he preferred a bathroom where the toilet didn't gurgle back at him. He pressed down on the gas pedal.
"How dry I am," he crooned off-key. "How wet I'll be, if I don't find . . ."
Suddenly he saw someone standing in the middle of the road.
A cop.
A motorcycle cop--holding up his hand and commanding Billy to stop.
So Billy slammed on his brakes and the pickup skidded sideways. Tires screeched, the truck swerved, and he almost hooked on to the bumper of a car he hadn't even seen coming. He spun around and wound up on the far side of the intersection--backward and straddling a ditch.
Billy wasn't injured, just totally dazed. He could see the taillights of the car he had nearly hit as it zoomed up the highway. Glancing at his rearview mirror, he saw the cop standing next to his motorbike, which was very weird-looking--it had a moonfaced headlight and chrome fenders swooping up over its tires.
It's from the 1950s, Billy thought. An old Harley Softail. Billy liked old motorcycles. Wished he had one right now so he could hightail it out of here before the cop came over and started hassling him. Then Billy realized: The cop's uniform and hat looked old-fashioned, too.
It looks like he's from some black-and-white movie. One of those old monster movies where the police try to capture Godzilla.
The cop marched slowly toward the truck.  Billy strained to see if it was anybody he knew, thinking this was some kind of practical joke. He tried to see the cop's face.
Only the cop didn't have one.
He had a crew cut and mirrored sunglasses and ears but no face!
Billy jerked up on his door handle hard. When it wouldn't budge, he kicked the door open. He screamed once and scrambled out of the truck and ran as fast as he could up the highway.

***

The police officer didn't care about Billy O'Claire. Didn't chase after him.
His job was done for the night. He had prevented a horrible, possibly fatal, collision.
Something he had tried to do once before.
June 21, 1958.
The day he had died.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Meet the Author

Chris Grabenstein is the Anthony Award–winning author of Tilt a Whirl, Mad Mouse, and Whack a Mole. He used to write TV and radio commercials and has written for the Muppets. Currently, Chris and his wife live in New York City with three cats and a dog named Fred, who starred in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on Broadway. You can visit him (and Fred) at www.chrisgrabenstein.com


From the Hardcover edition.

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The Crossroads 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
The-Bunny-Of-Doom More than 1 year ago
This book may have a slow start, but it's still a pretty great book. The whole time reading it seem to always have me guessing and waiting to see what might happen next. I would recommend to this book to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book starts off slow and doesn't get exciting until most of the characters are introduced. Once all this occurs, you start getting sucked into this very interesting plot and it seems as if you can't put the book down. Overall, I gave it four stars because of the slow beginning..but still it's a very exciting book that keeps you guessing.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
There's a tree that stands watch over the crossroads of County Route 13 and Connecticut State Highway 31. There's a memorial on the tree. Someone leaves a dozen fresh roses there every Monday. And the tree is at the back edge of Zack Jennings's new yard.

Zack, his father, and his new step-mother have left the city and moved to Connecticut. Zack lost his mother to cancer, and now that his father has remarried, the family is making a new start in Zack's father's hometown. They have a brand new house, Zack got a new dog, Zipper, and things with his step-mom might actually be okay.

But there's something strange going on in the town. Zack has a new friend, Davy. They have great adventures together, but it always seems like Zack is the one doing the hard work while Davy comes up with the plans. Judy, Zack's step-mom, gets a flat tire on the deserted highway and a Greyhound employee comes to offer aide. Though like with Davy, he can tell her how to fix it but he just can't do the work himself.

At the same time, the 50th-anniversary of a horrific bus accident at the intersection is about to occur. At the heart of the accident is Clint Eberhart. Trying to finish business with his first wife, the bus goes off the road and bursts into flames. The Thunderbird that Clint was driving smashes into the same tree that now holds a memorial dedicated to him.

Through the shrine that is kept at the tree, all the participants of that awful night fifty years ago are kept bound to the earth. It seems Zack has been the one chosen to help them release their souls. The only problem -- Zack doesn't know he's been chosen, nor does he even know that the spirits exist. At least he doesn't in the beginning...

THE CROSSROADS is a heart-pounding, page-turning ghost story that will keep even the strong-willed awake long after the last page has been turned. Clint Eberhart is pure evil, and the spirit and perseverance of one young boy is all it takes to face off against him. The book flows quickly with short chapters to keep the action constantly moving. The book is easy enough for most readers, but because of the ghosts and some of the scary content, I selected the older age group as a recommendation for readers.
AuthorChris More than 1 year ago
"If Grabenstein's first YA book were to receive a one-word review, the word would be Coooool, a term that applies in a variety of ways¿from the book's cover image (a face peering out of the bark of a tree) and its hitchhiking, hot-rodding ghosts to its creepy atmosphere, believable story, and suspense that engulfs readers from the very first page. Even the characters are cool, including contemporary, doo-wop, and even Dickensian. Grabenstein, who has won the Anthony Award for his adult mysteries and whose writing career encompassed work for the Muppets, brings a great sense of timing to this mystery-fright ride. Zack Jennings, a kid uprooted following his mother's death and his father's re-marriage, sees a leering face in a gnarled tree in the park near New York City's American Museum of Natural History. A move to Connecticut doesn't extricate Zack from evil apparently lodging in trees. Readers soon learn that at a crossroads just behind Zack's new home there's an oak tree capable of branching out into murder¿and a number of dissatisfied ghosts that prey on passing motorists. An absorbing psychological thriller (the ghost of Zack's malevolent mother plays a part) as well as a rip-roaring ghost story, this switches points of view among humans, trees, and ghosts with astonishing elan. Expect lots of requests."
¿Connie Fletcher, BOOKLIST STARRED REVIEW

"Grabenstein does a wonderful job bringing this ghost story to life. He includes the urban legends so many kids enjoy scaring themselves with ¿the motorcycle cop who died, but came back to prevent another accident, the woman hitchhiker who disappears. He adds his own creative ghost story, one fifty-years-old, and adds humor. There are explosions and fire, kidnapping, ghosts, and wild chase scenes. The Crossroads is a perfect book for summer escape reading. And, if you can pry it from your kids' hands, it's enjoyable summer reading for adults as well."
¿Lesa Holstine, USA Today.com

"The Crossroads is a heart-pounding, page-turning ghost story that will keep even the strong-willed awake long after the last page has been turned. Clint Eberhart is pure evil, and the spirit and perseverance of one young boy is all it takes to face off against him. The book flows quickly with short chapters to keep the action constantly moving."
¿Teens Read Too, (read the full review here)

"A truly frightening ghost story with plenty of action and a mystery at the heart of it all."
¿Mystery Scene

"This book is incredibly appealing¿it really grabs you quickly and takes you for quite a wild ride. A creepy, haunting tale that made it difficult at times to read at night. This is a great psychological thriller that has surprising twists and turns. You'll love it."
¿Knights Read Books Blog!

"Chris Grabenstein is an author of adult mysteries, but his first book for younger people will not disappoint. While he is known for his humor, readers should be prepared for many scary twists and turns in this very dark story, which will tie together secrets across grandparents, fathers and sons. Zack is funny and curious but finds his true heart in his battle with evil from living people and ghosts."
¿KIDSREAD.COM
GSSFX More than 1 year ago
I gave The Crossroads a 12/16. the ending of the book made a lit I gave The Crossroads a 12/16. the ending of the book made a little sense, but I didn't really understand it. I loved the book because it had the perfect amount of action in it. When I read it I felt like it was lacking detail so I couldn't picture it in my head. The title wasn't very helpful to me because I don't understand how the crossroads are important in the book. I wish there was a second book. I would recommend this to people who like ghost stories.
LMBSFX More than 1 year ago
I gave The Crossroads a 12/16. the ending of the book made a little sense, but I didn't really understand it. I loved the book because it had the perfect amount of action in it. When I read it I felt like it was lacking detail so I couldn't picture it in my head. The title wasn't very helpful to me because I don't understand how the crossroads are important in the book. I wish there was a second book. I would recommend this to people who like ghost stories.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Finished it a while ago, very good book especially the end was very tender. I highly recomend this book
Wing Sue Shiu More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing! Sometimes you may get confused, but you' ll have a great 'AHA!' moment as you finish. Great book for mystery/action lovers. May be a little sad or creepy for some readers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the story line. Kept you interested. Didn't want to put the book down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great book. On my opinion this was as good as percy jackson. It has just the right scare in it. If your looking for something with even more scare in it, read the screaming staircase.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Omg this thing scared the hell outv me. When i got to the part when It said zach saw a face in the tree i went back to the cover page and looked for the face. When i saw it i nearly screamed
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love all of his books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I READ THIS SERIES OUT OF ORDER BUT I STILL LUV IT! THIS BOOK WAS SLOW AT FIRST BIT THEN PICKED UP AS THE STORY PROGRESSED! CHRIS GRABENSTEIN IS ONE OF THE BEST AUTHORS EVER(Third to Rick Riordon and Erin Hunter)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really good
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Guest More than 1 year ago
It was a very mysterious book. It was pretty long but, it was worth it because after every interesting event there was also another one coming right after it. You never really got bored.
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Madison Duffy More than 1 year ago
It was a three month long book but i guess thats what makes it the best SOOOO GOOOD!!!!!!!!!!!
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