Ghost Town: Seven Ghostly Stories
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Ghost Town: Seven Ghostly Stories

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by Joan Lowery Nixon

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For fans of Gillian Flynn, Caroline Cooney, and R.L. Stine comes Ghost Town: Seven Ghostly Stories from four-time Edgar Allen Poe Young Adult Mystery Award winner Joan Lowery Nixon.
        In the old towns of the Wild West, there’s more to hear than the paint peeling from the deserted storefronts, more than the


For fans of Gillian Flynn, Caroline Cooney, and R.L. Stine comes Ghost Town: Seven Ghostly Stories from four-time Edgar Allen Poe Young Adult Mystery Award winner Joan Lowery Nixon.
        In the old towns of the Wild West, there’s more to hear than the paint peeling from the deserted storefronts, more than the tumbleweeds somersaulting down the empty streets. If you listen hard, you can hear voices whispering stories. Stories like the one about the lost mine in Maiden, Montana, or how Wyatt Earp won the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. And don’t forget about the Bad Man from Bodie, California—he’s still searching for his lost finger! Can you hear them?
“An entertaining collection.” –School Library Journal
“Combining history and mystery…[Ghost Town: Seven Ghostly Stories] recalls classic campfire tales.” –Booklist
“A well conceived (and titled) collection…[of] chilling short stories.” –Kirkus Reviews

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
In a delightful collection of stories, Nixon once again creates a mysterious world¾of the ghosts who live in ghost towns, where "only babies can see through to the other side," (and once in a while children can, too). Readers are carried through the whispering, lonely streets of seven western ghost towns. Thirteen-year-old Chip goes to Tombstone with his family against his will, but once there, he meets gunfighter Billy's ghost and suffers with him when he is shot to death near the OK Corral. Lauren's mother won't buy her a computer unless she sees a real ghost in Shakespeare, New Mexico. But when Lauren meets little ghost Jane, she knows at once that she must keep the child's secret. When Dub and his buddy run away and end up in a town full of angry ghosts, they make tracks right back home, where Dub decides he can now get along with his sisters. Each teenage protagonist has a life dilemma until he encounters a ghost, then finds a new strength in himself and experiences a transformation. Every story concludes with a brief history of the ghost town, directions to its location and resources to learn more about it. A short chapter about how to properly explore a ghost town concludes this hauntingly good read. 2000, Delacorte. Ages 8 to 13. Reviewer: Elaine Wick
School Library Journal
Gr 3-7-Each of these seven mildly spooky stories takes place in a real ghost town. Forced to visit Tombstone, AZ, with his family, a boy encounters a ghost who tells him the real story of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. A girl in Shakespeare, NM, helps a forlorn spirit rest in peace. Another girl is nearly lured away by a handsome ghost, until she sees his true skeletal features. Each tale is followed by a couple of pages of factual narrative about these towns, which include resources for more information. Nixon also mixes historical facts into the stories themselves, at times using parent lectures to their unenthusiastic kids to convey background material. The young protagonists are not particularly memorable, but the story premises are varied enough to make an entertaining collection. The heroes either learn a valuable lesson from their ghostly experiences or interact with the spirits to help them in some way. Only the last story, "Trade-off," has more palpable results, as a ghost takes the place of a spoiled child and doesn't look back. Though the tales are generally too tame to truly thrill readers, the ghost-town settings give the book a unifying and intriguing element that may draw readers looking for "scary, but not too scary" stories.-Steven Engelfried, Deschutes County Library, Bend, OR Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A well conceived (and titled) collection of middle-of-the-road, mildly chilling short stories, almost all of which involve a modern day boy or girl's encounter with a supernatural entity in an old ghost town. In "Buried," an adolescent girl traveling with her parents is able to help a little-girl ghost psychologically so that she can rest in peace. Two runaway boys encounter several ghosts in "The Intruders," whose scary presence teaches them that they are too young to be on their own. "Payback," which reads like a contemporary fairy tale, tells the story of a boy's reward for coming to the defense of a downtrodden ghost dog. The most engaging story in the book is "Trade-Off," in which a ghost protagonist gets the opportunity to switch places with a live boy and join a real human family. The majority of the stories are gently instructive in that they teach an ethical lesson or have some kind of moral dimension. Additionally, the format gives Nixon the opportunity to painlessly slip in a little historical data about the various ghost towns. Each story is followed by a succinct history of the ghost town it is set in, directions for getting there and other information for children who want to explore the topic more deeply, including books and selected Web sites. Although the bulk of the stories are conventional and competent rather than weirdly thrilling, Nixon has put together a clever package for youngsters interested in ghosts and ghost towns. (Short stories. 8-12)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
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Random House
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Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt


Hundreds of ghost towns are scattered across our Western states like dried, crumbling leaves after a winter windstorm. Thick adobe walls have weathered thin. Wooden posts and flooring have decayed. And even sturdy stone buildings have given in to the battering elements, their ragged remains marking the places where people once lived and worked.

Only a few of the ghost towns have been saved, their buildings repaired and painted so that visitors can catch a glimpse of Western life in the 1800s.

Most of the towns were established by miners hungry for their share of profits in the newly discovered veins of gold and silver. As time went on, however, some of these towns became hideouts for desperados. And there were a few in which groups of people attempted to establish other profitable industries and failed.

Miners, mountaineers, gunfighters, shady ladies, schoolteachers, preachers and their wives, workers and their families populated the towns. When the gold and silver were gone, the residents abandoned the towns.

Tourists from all over the world are not only curious about the Old West, but also fascinated by the stories behind each ghost town. Whether visitors believe in ghosts or not, once inside a ghost town, eerie feelings often engulf them. Just as sitting around a campfire listening to ghost stories makes you more aware of scary sounds, encountering a ghost in an abandoned town begins to seem quite possible.

Here are seven stories about real ghost towns in the West. Enter each town and walk its lonely streets lined with decaying buildings. See the shadows, and hear the whispers of those who seem unable to let go of their pasts.

These are the ghosts.

the Shoot-out

Chip Doby slumped in the backseat of his family's van. He wanted to be home in Phoenix with his best friends, Carlos and Dan. They'd saved enough from their allowances to spend all Saturday at the arcade. He'd saved, too, but a fat lot of good it had done him.

"Tomorrow we're taking a family trip to the town of Tombstone," Chip's mother had announced at breakfast on Friday. "We think everyone will enjoy a family outing."

"Tomorrow! But that's Saturday!" Chip's cereal spoon had fallen to the table, spattering milk and soggy Krispies across his T-shirt.

His little sisters had giggled.

"Sloppy, sloppy," ten-year-old Abby had chanted, while seven-year-old Emily had made a face.

But Mrs. Doby had said, "You'll love it." She'd beamed with excitement. "It will be great fun to see this historic Western town, and it will be painlessly educational, too. It was named a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior back in the sixties."

Chip had groaned and dropped his forehead to the table, narrowly missing what was left of his cereal. "Tomorrow's Saturday," he'd said. "I'm supposed to hang out with Carlos and Dan."

"This is a marvelous opportunity, Chip," his mother had answered patiently. "You can walk the streets of the town, visit the restored buildings, and see the people in costume. During the day they even have make-believe shoot-outs. It's a wonderful look at the Old West in Arizona. Believe me, you're going to enjoy it."

"Enjoy national historic stuff? Sure."

"Charles, sit up," his father had said in a tone of voice that showed he meant business. As Chip had sat back in his chair, his dad had handed him a clean spoon. "And finish your breakfast. Your mother is right. You're going to enjoy the history of this trip. Tombstone is where the famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral took place, with Wyatt Earp and his brothers and Doc Holliday."

Chip had groaned again. "Dad, I can't go. I promised the guys--"

Mr. Doby had frowned, so Chip had turned quickly to his mother. "Mom, how long is this trip?"

"Only for the weekend," she'd said. "We'll be home Sunday evening."

"Then let me stay here alone," Chip had pleaded. "I'm not a little kid. I'm thirteen. I'm old enough to take care of myself."

"Out of the question," Mr. Doby had said.

Chip hadn't wanted to give up that easily. "Look, every week I mow Mr. Banks's lawn and ours, and last week I helped put a coat of stain on the backyard deck. You told me I did a good job. You said I was responsible. So if you meant what you said, then why can't I be responsible enough to stay by myself?"

"I did mean what I told you," Mr. Doby had answered. "You've proved to be highly responsible in handling the jobs you've taken on, but that has nothing to do with your staying here in the house alone. You're just not old enough, Chip."

Chip had looked at his mother. "Mom--"

"Our decision has been made, and we'll hear no more about it," Mr. Doby had said. "Do you understand?"

"Yeah," Chip had mumbled, but he really hadn't understood. As he sat in the car, riding through southern Arizona, all he thought about was the unfairness of it all.

Off to the west lay brown, scrubby, low mountains and hills--the southern end of the Rocky Mountains that dribbled off like a gigantic brown lizard's tail. Ahead, along Interstate 80, which stead-ily climbed in altitude through the desert landscape, stood a few colorful billboards advertising the route to Tombstone.

As Mrs. Doby began reading aloud from her guidebook about the history of Tombstone, Chip wished he could plug up his ears. Instead he had to hear about some miner from a million years ago who was told that the only thing he'd ever get out of his property was his tombstone. So he jokingly called his mine and his town Tombstone. So what?

All Chip could think about was Dan and Carlos having fun without him at the arcade. They'd be playing Deadly Aliens, and he wouldn't.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Meet the Author

Joan Lowery Nixon was the author of more than 130 books for young readers and was the only four-time winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Best Young Adult Mystery Award. She received the award for The Kidnapping of Christina LattimoreThe SéanceThe Name of the Game Was Murder, and The Other Side of the Dark, which also won the California Young Reader Medal. Her historical fiction included the award-winning series The Orphan Train Adventures, Orphan Train Children, and Colonial Williamsburg: Young Americans.

From the Hardcover edition.

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