Carter discovers a creepy maze at the fair and travels farther and farther back in time. How will he ever get back to the present?
The fair is dull, dull, dull, and nothing interesting will ever happen to Carter again … until Carter discovers the curious maze.
Nothing has ever happened here in the history of the world , he thinks. But the maze has some strange secrets, and the spot Carter stands upon has seen some very exciting events over the centuries.
Once Carter enters the maze, odd people begin to appear. First he meets Mr. Green, the mysterious, creepy maze-keeper, then a leaf-covered girl, a lost little boy in old-fashioned clothes, a wounded British soldier, and finally an eighteenth-century Native boy who seems very authentic, indeed.
When Carter eventually escapes the curious maze, the fair is all wrong. There are too many horses, ladies in bonnets, and what’s a freak show doing there? Carter begins his travels through time, and his dull afternoon is about to get very, very interesting.
About the Author
Philippa Dowding is an award-winning copywriter, poet, and children’s author. Her books have been nominated for the Diamond Willow, Hackmatack, Silver Birch, and Red Maple awards. Her third book, The Gargoyle at the Gates , was named a White Raven Book by the International Youth Library in Munich. Philippa lives in Toronto.
Read an Excerpt
The mummy howled.
The skeleton rattled.
The ghost flapped in his face.
Carter rolled his eyes.
He had to face it: the haunted house at the fair just wasn’t scary anymore.
It used to be scary when he was a little kid. Even last year, when he was eleven, it was still a little creepy. But this year?
No chills, no goosebumps, no shrieks, nothing. The only thing Carter noticed was that the pop-up crypt keeper had a broken spring sticking out of his head, and the floating ghost was covered in a thick layer of dust. Plus, there was a bored-looking man standing behind the curtain near the end of the ride, beside a red button that said, “In Case of Emergency, Push to STOP.”
What emergency? Carter thought. Not even a little kid would be scared by this boring ride!
The haunted house ride ended, and Carter climbed out of the rolling car. He pushed past the bored fair worker and shoved his way through the crowd into the bright sunshine. It was weird out in the noisy midway after the dark of the haunted house.
Carter scanned the crowd and found his older sister, Sydney, but frankly, she would have been hard to miss. She was wearing a ridiculous red hat with googly eyes and long, red tentacles.
“What the heck is that thing?” Carter asked as he joined her. It was the weirdest hat he’d ever seen.
“It’s a squid hat,” Sydney answered, pleased. “I won it. Over there.” She pointed at a tent with stripes on it under an old tree. “While you were in the haunted house,” she added.
“Take it off, you look strange,” Carter said. Everything about the fair suddenly seemed strange. His once-favourite haunted house. And now the weirdest hat in the world.
And there were more things that suddenly didn’t seem so fun. For one thing, it was too hot. And for another, it was too loud. He’d never noticed how loud and hot the fair was before. Plus the placed smelled. The air was full of the reek of fried food and garbage.
Yep … that’s garbage, all right.
Carter and Sydney walked out of the noisy, hot midway and bought ice cream cones. They sat on a picnic bench near the lake beside an enormous grey rock.
The water lay perfectly still against the pebbles on the shore. It looked pretty, but the water smelled like goose poop, which Carter had never noticed before. A few sailboats bobbed in the lake, but there was no wind. It was too hot and still, even for the sailboats.
Carter looked up at the huge grey rock beside them. It stood above his head, above his arms, stretched out. It looked very old and was covered with moss and deep scratches near the top. He finished his ice cream and studied the huge rock.
I’m so bored, I’m studying rocks! I have to get out of here!
“Come on, Sydney, let’s go find Mom,” he begged. “I’m dying of boredom! This place is dull. Nothing interesting has ever happened here in the history of the world. Let’s go!”
“It’s not boring, and Mom’s not meeting us at the parking lot for a little while, Carter. What’s wrong with you? There’s still so much to see.” Sydney marched away. Carter sighed and followed her past the tents and midway rides.
Then he stopped.
Someone was watching him. Across the grass beside a tall tree, a stranger waved and beckoned. Carter was too far away to tell if the man – because it looked like a very small man in a long green smock – was definitely waving at him or someone else. Carter slowly raised his hand and cautiously waved back.
The man waved again, more urgently this time.
Carter looked around to see if the person was waving at someone behind him, but no, he was alone. How odd. Who could that be? He didn’t know anyone else at the fair. Carter realized that Sydney was getting farther away; her red hat bounced in the distance.
He ran to catch up with his sister, looking over his shoulder once more … but the stranger in the green smock was gone.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Carter is too old for his town summer fair. Everything is dull and boring, that is until he enters the curious maze. The maze is run by an old man, Mr. Green, who appears to have a large, deformed, green thumb. The maze is from older times as described in the prologue as an introduction to the story. Once inside, Carter realises that this maze isn't a typical fairground attraction and it might take him far longer than expected to find his way home. He runs into characters from the past who he thinks are actors, but he is wrong. He ends up in various different times in history where sometimes he is seen and other times he is not. Carter soon discovers that some fairground attractions might harbour more secrets than they appear to at first glance. Parts of the book are scary and some younger readers might not like that part. Because this is a short story that is part of the Weird Stories Gone Wrong series, there is not enough time to develop the characters. I really did not get a sense of who Carter was, but I do not think the age group this book is geared to will mind that too much. Carter's journey takes the reader on a whirlwind trip into various historical periods, from the present all the way back to the very beginnings of European settlement in his local area. The problems he finds himself in are not very difficult to get out of, but it is still a fun and creepy read. The two main creepy characters, Mr Green and the "creepy leaf girl" that Carter encounters early on hit the mark in terms of creepiness and there is the sinister feeling you get whenever you meet Mr. Green. The illustrations are few, but they are in just the right spots to add to the story. There is just enough weirdness/creepiness to give the story an overall scary atmosphere. I think middle-grade students will really enjoy this book and it would be a good addition to school and class libraries. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.