Small Spaces

by Katherine Arden

Ollie, 11, stays up late one night reading a book called Small Spaces.... read more

Ollie, 11, stays up late one night reading a book called Small Spaces. Published in 1895, it tells of a woman whose husband made a deal with the devil to bring his brother back to life. The next day, Ollie’s class takes a field trip to a local sustainable farm. The farm’s history has elements that match the story—long- ago disappearances and rumors of ghosts—while the owner turns out to be the woman Ollie got the book from under strange circumstances, although the woman shows no signs of recognizing Ollie. On the way back to the school at the end of the day, the bus breaks down on a darkening road. Heavy mist and no cell service send Ollie’s teacher in search of help, while the driver, with an eerie smile and flicking red tongue, tells the kids, “At nightfall, they’ll come for the rest of you.” With two of her classmates, Ollie bolts from the bus in fear. Ollie, who’s been a loner since her mother’s death months before, has been dismissive of Coco, who cries a lot, and Brian, a jock, but the three work together to evade capture from whatever is out there and come up with a plan to save their classmates. This genuinely scary work of genre fiction features terrific character development, which is why it also succeeds as a satisfying, surprisingly warm story about family, loss, and friendship. (Ages 9–12)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2019

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