CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 8 . . . .December 8, 2006
Bats in the Graveyard. (HIP-JR.).
Sharon Jennings. Illustrated by Kalle Malloy.
Toronto, ON: HIP Books, 2006.
69 pp., pbk., $9.95.
Detective and mystery stories.
Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.
Review by Janice Foster.
Bats in the Graveyard: Teacher’s Guide.
Toronto, ON: HIP Books, 2006.
22 pp., pbk., $5.95.
I ran and ran. I couldn't see where I was going.
I didn't see the grave up ahead. I banged into the tombstone and tripped. I landed on something soft. The soft thing gave way and I was falling down and down. Then I landed with a thud. At last, I heard laughing, crazy evil laughing. And then I heard nothing.
Sixth graders Sam and Simon design a haunted house for Sam's little sister Ellen's birthday party. Ellen and her friends find it terrifying. And so begins a chain of events. The big brothers of Ellen's friends invite the boys to meet them in the graveyard the next night to experience being scared. When Sam ends up inside a freshly dug grave and a body is dumped on top of him, the reader knows that Sam's troubles are just beginning. Withholding important information while being questioned by the police complicates the situation and puts Sam in danger. Can the Bat Gang, Sam and Simon, solve the murder before one of them becomes the next victim?
Bats in the Graveyard is the sequel to Sharon Jennings' first book in the “Bats” series, Bats Past Midnight. The book continues the mischievous exploits of the Bat Gang, Sam and Simon. The author's use of suspense, ghouls, a graveyard, murder and mystery readily captivates the reader. The controlled reading level, realistic dialogue and the fast pace of the story further engage the reluctant reader. Dividing the story into nine short chapters interspersed with simple black and white illustrations by Kalle Malloy provides an easy to read format. For the older readers, the drawings may appear a bit juvenile. The close friendship between the two main characters and the use of humour in recounting their exciting adventures easily connect the reader to the story.
The teacher's guide, written by Lori Jamison, provides suggestions on using this novel for guided reading instruction, independent reading, literature circles and with English language learners. High Interest Publishing novels are designed to engage the reluctant reader in an absorbing, enjoyable story. Bats in the Graveyard is part of the HIP-JR. series intended for middle years students. The plot will certainly grab their attention, and the carefully crafted format will provide a satisfying and successful reading experience.
Janice Foster is a teacher-librarian at Henry G. Izatt Middle School in Winnipeg, MB.
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