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School Spirits

School Spirits

5.0 2
by Michael O. Tunnell

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Patrick never wanted to move to Waskasoo City. He has no friends there; his dad is going to be the school principal, and some bullies have decided to welcome him in their own special way. And then there's the school itself. Craven Hill School resembles a foreboding old castle, with its looming towers, long dark staircases, and forbidding bell tower.

Late one night,


Patrick never wanted to move to Waskasoo City. He has no friends there; his dad is going to be the school principal, and some bullies have decided to welcome him in their own special way. And then there's the school itself. Craven Hill School resembles a foreboding old castle, with its looming towers, long dark staircases, and forbidding bell tower.

Late one night, while waiting for his father to finish work, Patrick finds himself drawn down the school's dark hallway and up its gloomy stairs. There he see a young boy materialize before him and then disappear into thin air. That's just the beginning of Patrick's troubles because the ghost keeps appearing in the most unlikely places. Though the wraith doesn't speak, he seems to be demanding Patrick's help with something--only Patrick can't seem to understand what that something is. Increasingly angry and impatient, the spirit lashes out as he grows more and more powerful. Desperate to find out what is wanted of him, Patrick begins to investigate. He discovers that nearly forty years before, a young boy disappeared forever from Craven Hill. Like Patrick, he was new to the school and his father was the principal . . .

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
What begins as a rather flaccid rendition of a 20th-century gothic mystery turns into something more gripping once Patrick Meeres, the new boy in town, starts piecing together the puzzle surrounding a blue-green apparition. Lured by the ghost of eight-year-old Barnaby Dawe, whose sudden disappearance in November, 1920, remains unsolved, Patrick and his friend, Nairen, end up at Craven Hill School, a castle-like structure built by an eccentric English immigrant. There Patrick slides down the "tube" fire escape and travels back in time to discover Barnaby's bizarre fate in the school library. Tunnel (Mailing May) relies on a plethora of tried-and-true spook tactics (e.g., unexplained midnight bell chimes, phantoms passing through walls). Middle graders will likely be more impressed by the story's hair-raising climax than its uninspired narrative ("Time seemed to stop, and in the lull Patrick's thoughts became strangely detached. He calmly wondered about fainting or screaming or running") and cookie-cutter characterizations (Patrick's dad is the new principal who pronounces, "Breaking and entering could get you reform school, young man" to a boy he suspects of unlocking the school door). For those new to the genre, this may offer some suspense, but mystery buffs will be disappointed. Ages 8-12. (Dec.)
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
Patrick is miserable when his father accepts the principalship at Craven Hill School, which looks like a spooky castle. Late one night while waiting for his father, Patrick sees a young boy materialize and then disappear into thin air. That's only the beginning because the ghost continues to return and become more powerful. Patrick's only friend is Nairen, a feisty girl, determined to help him resolve a mystery that happened at the school fifty years ago. The author's memories of attending "The Castle," an eerie looking school with towers and a belfry, was the inspiration for this spooky tale. This book will hook readers who like scary stories but not bloody ones.
VOYA - Anne Liebst
Craven Hill School looks like a castle, complete with a bell tower, creepy staircases, long, dark hallways, and secret rooms. It is also a new place for Patrick, in a town where Patrick does not want to be. Why did his father take the job as principal of this school? Things just cannot get any worse, until the night Patrick sees the blue-green glow of a small human figure in one of the school's hallways. It is only the beginning of Patrick's troubles. The main characters, Patrick, Nairen, and Marion, solve a decades old murder mystery involving an eight-year-old at creepy old Craven Hill School. And just like Patrick, the boy was son of the school's principal. The story is slightly predictable, but has good cliffhanger chapter endings and a nice twist at the end. The author's writing style is simple enough that younger readers could enjoy this book as well. Readers will find themselves cheering the characters along and trying to solve the mystery, and will be reminded of the movie Casper where a child ghost must resolve the circumstances of his death before he can rest in peace. VOYA Codes: 3Q 3P M J (3q Will appeal with pushing, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Patrick moves to town with his widowed father, the new school principal. He makes friends with Nairen, the beanpole girl next door-and he makes a few enemies, too, including the local bully and the resident ghost at his father's gothic school. As the ghost makes his presence ever more insistent, Patrick learns to forge new alliances in his quest to settle the ghost's angry spirit.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6When his father accepts a job as principal at Craven Hill School, Patrick isn't happy about the move. On his very first day in the new town, he meets Nairen, the girl next door; two local bullies; and the ghost of young Barney Dawe. By talking to the school librarian and by reading old newspapers at the local public library, Patrick and Nairen discover that Barney disappeared from the school library many years ago, was never found, and that the custodian was suspected of foul play. In this fast-paced story set in the 1950s, Patrick and Nairen investigate and eventual resolve the mystery surrounding Barney's tragic story. Even though the adults are far less developed than the children, the characters ring true. The dialogue moves the plot along and is well integrated into the story line. While readers will not necessarily have goose bumps, they will be drawn in by the clear, succinct writing and the anticipatory mood. The telling is solid and doesn't rely on buckets of blood or hacked bodies to entice readers. This is a logical choice for fans of E.W. Hildick and Donald Sobol.Molly S. Kinney, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Product Details

CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.33(d)

Meet the Author

I taught children's literature at Brigham Young University for many years and have written several books about literature for young readers, including The Story of Ourselves: Teaching History Through Children's Literature and Children's Literature, Briefly. Twice I helped choose the Newbery Medal winner, the most prestigious of children's book awards. My wife, Glenna, and I live in Orem, Utah. We have four grown children and nine grandchildren. We love to travel the world when we can and, in the last few years, have been to Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Japan, New Zealand, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, France, and England.
I have written picture books, informational books, and novels for young readers of different ages. Many of my books are about historical topics, such as The Children of Topaz, a photo-essay about the Japanese-American internment camp located in Utah during World War II. Other examples include the picture book, Mailing May (illustrated by the wonderful Ted Rand), which is the amazing true story of a five-year-old girl in Idaho who was mailed by parcel post to her grandmother in 1914 (an ALA Notable Book), and the novel, Brothers in Valor, based on the true story of three German teens who resisted Hitler during WWII (A Junior Library Guild Selection). I also have written fantasy, such as my ghost story, School Spirits, and my "Arabian Nights" Moon Duet (Wishing Moon and Moon Without Magic). Wishing Moon received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews and won the Utah Book Award. Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot" is another of my history titles. It is a photo-essay about American pilot who dropped candy-laden parachutes to children during Berlin Airlift. Candy Bomber received a starred review from Booklist, won an Orbis Pictus Honor Book Award and the Beehive Book Award, and appeared on many best books lists. Some of my other books include the picture books Chinook!, The Joke's on George, Halloween Pie, and Beauty and the Beastly Children, as well as The Prydain Companion, a guide to Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles.

For further biographical information see the following sources:

Something About the Author, volume 103. Edited by Alan Hedblad. The Gale Group, 1999, pp. 168-173.

The Eighth Book of Junior Authors and Illustrators. Edited by Connie Rockman. H.W. Wilson, 2000, pp. 529-533.

Something About the Author, volume 157. The Gale Group, 2005, pp. 247-252.

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5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an awesome book! I never wanted to put it down.
Guest More than 1 year ago