Thursday, April 2, 2009

Book Review: All the Lovely Bad Ones

All the Lovely Bad Ones by Mary Downing Hahn. (Grades 4-8.)

Travis and his sister Corey aren't the most well-behaved children in the world. In fact, they're spending this summer with their grandmother at her Vermont inn because they got kicked out of camp last summer. Grandmother's inn has it all - a pool, video games, grounds to run around on - but the best thing about it is that there are rumors that the inn is haunted.

When Travis and Corey hear this, they immediately think up some mischief. With a few props, some makeup, and some scary sound effects they can scare the daylights out of the other guests at the inn - and have a good laugh themselves. It starts out innocently enough, but soon weird things start happening around the inn. And Travis and Corey will have to figure out how to put to rest the lovely bad ones they've awoken.

I'm not a huge fan of ghost stories, although I think I would have loved this book when I was about nine years old. That said, I liked this book better than I thought I would. Mary Downing Hahn creates a chilling atmosphere and some punky little kids that I wanted to first shake and then hug.

The supporting characters seemed a little like stock characters to me. There's the skeptical adult (Grandmother) and the wise, old believing adult who warns the kids and then helps them solve the mystery. But there are also some funny ghost-chasers who come to the inn when rumors get out that the hauntings are back.

All in all, not exactly my cup of tea, but this is one Caudill nominee that kids will clamor for.