On the Day I Died
On the Day I Died
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Candace Fleming
ISBN 9780307991010
Listening Library, 2012.
4 ½ stars
Keywords: candace-fleming day-i-died folklore ghost-stories history read-aloud

On the Day I Died
by Candace Fleming

"The best ghost stories... should always include a kernel of truth," says Candace Fleming in her endnotes to On the Day I Died. That basis in truth makes these 10 tales as spine-tingling as any a child will hear around the campfire this summer.

The ghosts' eras, from the 1850s to the present, and the variety of voices and moods means there's something here for everyone. The full-cast recording fully exploits the possibilities--great for a family car trip. Fleming ties together the ghosts' tales through high school junior Mike Kowalski, who stops to pick up a soaking-wet girl by Hawthorn Lake on a cold October night. Readers may guess before Mike does that young Carol Anne is a ghost, but that does not make her story any less harrowing. Mike winds up at White Cemetery (an actual cemetery outside Chicago), where Carol Anne is buried in "a special plot for young folks."

The ghosts take turns explaining to Mike how they got there and, in between, they comment as a group. Gina cries wolf one time too many, and is undone by a boy who's taken lying to a high art form. There's also a Faustian bargain, a riff on the classic Monkey's Paw lore, two tales tied to Al Capone and the memorable and aptly named "Edgar." MacLeod Andrews, who reads "Edgar," makes the boy's Edgar Allan Poe–like "ponderings" seem entirely rational, except that he believes his wallpaper has come alive. On the Day I Died is perfect for graduates of Goosebumps and Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories. [Also available in hardcover from Schwartz & Wade/Random House, $16.99, 9780375867811.] 

This review first appeared on Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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