Publisher's Note:  

Twelve years ago, for 12 days straight, the town of Widowsbury suffered a terrible storm, which tore open a gate through which escaped all sorts of foul, rotten things. Strange things and strange people were no longer welcomed in Widowsbury, for one could never be sure of what secrets waited under the surface . . .

Adelaide Foss, Maggie Borland, and Beatrice Alfred are known by their classmates at Widowsbury's Madame Gertrude's School for Girls as "scary children." Unfairly targeted because of their peculiarities—Adelaide has an uncanny resemblance to a werewolf, Maggie is abnormally strong, and Beatrice claims to be able to see ghosts—the girls spend a good deal of time isolated in the school's inhospitable library facing detention. But when a number of people mysteriously begin to disappear in Widowsbury, the girls work together, along with Steffen Weller, son of the cook at Rudyard School for Boys, to find out who is behind the abductions. Will they be able to save Widowsbury from a 12-year-old curse?

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Skary Childrin and the Carousel of Sorrow

by Katy Towell

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Overall Review:  

Meet the Scary Children (or Skary Childrin, as spelled by Beatrice):  Adelaide is shunned because everyone believes she is a werewolf!  Yes, her ears are pointed, her fingernails look more like claws, she can see and smell more than anyone else…but that doesn’t mean she’s a bad person, right?  Maggie is amazingly strong and beats up those who try to pick on others—which means she is shunned as well.  She’s also usually very grumpy and sarcastic, but she’s a loyal friend.  Beatrice can see and talk to ghosts (mostly animals, though), so everyone thinks she is creepy and weird, but she is the sweetest, most innocent and positive person you could meet!  And I loved her sweet little ghost mouse-turned-postman!  Then there’s my personal favorite: Steffen.  He’s a pretty normal kid, actually.  He’s poor and he’s homeschooled since his dad can’t afford to send him to school, but he is happy and cute and willing to help others.  And, oh, how I loved all his inventions (especially his invisibility hats, which don’t actually work) and his fetish with peanut butter sandwiches!

The curse of Widowsbury is taking a turn for the worse and people are disappearing.  The town is already wary of anything new and now they are even more scared and suspicious.  The four children stumble onto something they were definitely not meant to see and as they try desperately to warn people, the only reaction they get is more trouble!!  Could the big old carousel really be as evil as they think it is?  And what is it, exactly?  What started out as a mystery surrounding their missing librarian, turns into a fight to save the entire town from something worse than they ever could have imagined!

Skary Childrin is what happens when you take elements from ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’, ‘X-Men’, ‘Poltergeist’, and ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’, mix it all together, and put it in the microwave!  Fast paced and very scary—if you want to be scared silly, then this is the book for you!  Make sure you keep a flashlight handy! 

Content Analysis:  

There is a lot of mild violence, such as bullying and mean people.  They do things like calling names, taunting, humiliating…doing anything possible to make the others feel horrible.  The headmistress dislikes some of the students and constantly punishes them with cruel punishments: The Wall (sitting against a rough brick wall for an entire day while everyone looks on), The Wailing Room (characters are put inside a small room for a very extended period of time without any lights, or food, and with the door shut and locked with chains and padlocks—rumor has it there is a wailing ghost inside and it may or may not let you live), or The Library (a very gloomy, damp room with horrible people as librarians who hit them, make fun of them, and generally make their lives miserable).  There are a few different instances of ghost attacks: One instance is when the main characters are trying to get a bully to leave them alone, and they have some ghosts attack her in order to scare her into leaving them alone.  It mostly works, as she is very shaken.  Another instance is when a ghost chases after a character in order to deliver a message, but while she’s trying to deliver the message (that the town will be eaten), she transforms into something very scary (this happens twice).  There is an evil shadow man who is behind the disappearances and hates everyone.  He tries to trick people into following him and tries to get into some character’s windows late at night during a lightning storm.  A strange shape-shifting creature feeds off of sadness, but becomes mutated and ends up becoming a person-eating monster.  A character gives out candy made from poisoned blood.  When characters enter the carousel they are attacked by mutated and scary creatures (giant scorpions, tarantulas, bears, hornets, bat-dogs, etc).  A character finds another character covered in slime and mostly unconscious who screams in terror over and over again.  When the evil creature is defeated, it vomits people all over and then it melts—the skin melting right off the body (lots of description).  There are some scary pictures.

Mature Subject Matter:  

The mature themes are fairly moderate and deal with curses, the reality of monsters and evil, supernatural occurrences, misery and death—it’s pretty scary.  Some mild themes are that of fitting in/being different, friendship, and being loyal and helping others.

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Reviewed By Emily
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