________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 15 . . . . March 29, 2002

cover Don't Open the Door. (Easy-to-Read Spooky Tales).

Veronika Martenova Charles. Illustrated by Leanne Franson.
Toronto, ON: Stoddart Kids, 2000.
56 pp., pbk., $7.95.
ISBN 0-7737-6137-3.

Subject Headings:
Horror tales, Canadian (English).
Children's stories, Canadian (English).

Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.

Review by Deborah Mervold.

**** /4


At last it was Friday. Finally! Tonight I had a sleep over at my house. First Leon arrived. The Marcos came. We played my games and I showed them all of my treasures. We traded cards, told jokes, and made funny faces. Then we pretended to fight, like in a movie.

My mom came upstairs and said, "Time to get ready for bed." We brushed our teeth and put on our pajamas. I heard the doorbell. From downstairs, Mom called out, "I have to go next door to help for a minutes. Don't open the door! Not for anybody! I'll be back soon."

"Let's tell some scary stories," I said.

"Me first," said Leon.

"What is your story called?" asked Marcos.

"It's called Smart Mariette," Leon said. "Listen."

So begins this easy-to read spooky trio of tales. Each of the three boys tells a story about not opening the door. The first story, "Smart Mariette," is Leon's story about Mariette who is home alone. Her parents tell her not to open the door to anyone. When Mariette sees her friend, Lisa, outside, she forgets what her parents have said. She follows "Lisa" to the woods when she realizes that Lisa is really a goblin because she eats frogs. Mariette tricks the goblin and runs home to wait for her parents on the roof of her house.

     The second story, "The Wicked Wooden Maidens," is told in first person. It is similar to "Hansel and Gretel" in that the boy in the story lives with a reindeer who tells the boy not to open the door to anyone. After the reindeer goes to find food, three maidens come to the door, and the boy lets them in. They carry him off to their cave and torment him and attempt to fatten him up before they have him for dinner. The reindeer hears the boy's screams and rescues him in time. The boy promises never to open the door for strangers.

     The third story is Marcos' story, "Evil Rocks." A mother and her daughter were looking for their lost lamb. The girl is tired, and the mother leaves her to rest with the warning not to open the door for anyone. Capusa, an evil witch, lives nearby between two rocks which could swallow people whole. The witch comes to the little girl and tells her that she knows where the lamb is. The girl goes with the witch and walks between the rocks. At that moment, the three boys who have been narrating the stories hear a noise which sounds like the mother returning home. Is it his mother or a goblin? The mother says the boys did the right thing in not opening the door, but she has forgotten her key. The boys then go to sleep leaving the light on. In an "Afterword," the author invites possible endings for the story with the advice that, when the girl saves herself, she also saves the other people trapped in the rocks.

     The book is divided into "Sleepover part 1," the three stories, "Sleepover part 2" where the mother returns home, and then the "Afterword" with the idea for the solution to the final story. The boys also comment on each of the stories before the next story starts.

     Charles tells the origin of the three stories, explaining that they are based on stories from Guyana, a Bohemian folk tale and from Peru. The division of the book is well done as it provides a framework for the telling of the stories. The boys are realistic, and the language is age appropriate. Don't Open the Door is a good selection for children beginning to read chapter books.

     I would recommend this selection for public and school libraries for it is well written and combines the telling of ghost stories with fables from other countries.

Highly Recommended.

Deborah Mervold is a teacher librarian in a grade 5 - 12 school and a Resource Based Learning Consultant for Saskatchewan's Parkland School Division.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364