Fernie What, an adventurous young horror fan, moves into the house across the street from the dark mansion of a mysterious boy whose residence is haunted by evil shadows.
Gr 4-6-Here's a great read for fans of dark tales with happy endings, not to mention wonderful graphite illustrations. Ten-year-old Fernie and her 12-year-old sister, Pearlie, have just moved into their brightly painted house on Sunnyside Terrace amid all the other cheery homes, save for the black mansion directly across the street. This is Gustav Gloom's house. Gustav is a soulful looking 10-year-old with an unusual secret: he is neither human nor shadow and cannot leave the confines of his dark, mysterious house. The People Taker and his Beast and a library in Gustav's house figure significantly in the story. In a clever twist on the perplexing question of self (and possibly inspired by the saying "Afraid of his own shadow"), Castro explores how we are defined by our physical bodies, imbuing shadows with personalities and wills of their own. Fernie is a stereotype-bending heroine who gives readers something to consider when defining gender roles. And finally, the eternal theme of friendship is beautifully explored in the relationship that develops between Fernie and Gustav. Castro's well-paced story keeps readers engaged in these relationships and in the mystery that unfolds. This is a satisfying introduction for middle grade readers into the scary and dark themes that resonate so well with teens. Fans of Adam Gidwitz's A Tale Dark & Grimm (Dutton, 2010) can add this to their list of creepy tales.-Mary Beth Rassulo, Ridgefield Library, CT (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Grosset & Dunlap
August 16, 2012
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