Spooky Selections for Middle Grade Readers

mgspook1Do you have a middle grade reader that lovers anything spooky? This age group often loves to be scared, but not terrified, by their scary stories. Finding books that make parents and readers happy is sometimes hard, but here are some books that might just hit the mark.

Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn
Unhappy about moving into a converted church in the country with her mother and new stepfather, Molly must put aside her dislike of her little stepsister, Heather, when the child is possessed by a malevolent ghost.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaimanmgspooky3
Raised since he was a baby by ghosts, werewolves, and other residents of the cemetery in which he has always resided, Bod wonders how he will manage to survive amongst the living with only the lessons he has learned from the dead.

Doll Bones by Holly Black
Zach, Alice, and Poppy, friends from a Pennsylvania middle school who have long enjoyed acting out imaginary adventures with dolls and action figures, embark on a real-life quest to Ohio to bury a doll made from the ashes of a dead girl.mgspooky4

A Tale Dark & Grimm (A Tale Dark & Grimm, #1) by Adam Gidwitz
Follows Hansel and Gretel as they walk out of their own story and into eight more tales, encountering witches, devils, warlocks, kindly strangers, and other helpful folk as they take charge of their own happily ever after.

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand
Practically-perfect twelve-year-old Victoria Wright must lie, sneak, and break the rules when her investigation of the disappearance of her best–and only–friend, Lawrence, mgspooky6reveals dark secrets about her town and the orphanage run by the reclusive Mrs. Cavendish.

Skulduggery Pleasant (Skulduggery Pleasant, #1) by Derek Landy
When a not-so-innocent twelve-year-old girl named Stephanie inherits her eccentric uncle’s estate, she must join forces with Skulduggery Pleasant, a skeleton mage, to save the world from an ancient evil.

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Looking for more spooky mayhem that will please a middle grade (or older) reader? Here are a few more of the many avalible options: Coraline by Neil Gaiman, The Old Willis Place by Mary Downing Hahn, The Nightmarys by Dan Poblocki, The Doll in the Garden by Mary Downing Hahn, The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury, The House with a Clock in Its Walls (Lewis Barnavelt, #1) by John Bellairs, School Spirit (Suddenly Supernatural #1) by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel,  Skeleton Man by Joseph Bruchac, The Ghost Comes Calling by Betty Ren Wright, Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver,  Ghosts I Have Been by Richard Peck, and The Ghost’s Grave by Peg Kehret.

Keep Yourself Reading

I’ve always been an avid reader, but sometimes I stall out for weeks at a time. It could be that a book just isn’t clicking with me, and so I never make the time to finish it. Or maybe I finish a particularly challenging or emotional book, and I’m hesitant to jump into a new story right away. Or maybe I’m just busy. Or maybe I’m watching too much Netflix!

If this sounds like you, I can help. Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks to keep myself always reading.

  1. Keep track of the books you want to read so you never have to wonder “What’s Next?” I love www.goodreads.com for keep tracking of what I’ve read and what I plan to read.
  2. Don’t waste time on a book that isn’t for you. If you’re not enjoying something, allow yourself to read another book instead. Reading for pleasure should never be a chore! You can always come back to that other book later.
  3. If life seems to get in the way of making time for reading, grab something that you can’t put down. It’s OK to indulge in fluffier stories if that’s what keeps your momentum going. You’ll be surprised by the time you suddenly “find” when a book is too good to ignore.
  4. Make reading a part of your routine. Whether it’s with your morning coffee, on your lunch break, or before you go to sleep, try to make a set time to read every single day.
  5. And my favorite tip: When you finish a book, immediately start reading another one, if only just the first page. This remedies the problem of letting a book “sink in” for a day, or two days, before picking up another.

I recently stalled after reading The Nightingale. It was such an emotionally intense book that I couldn’t bring myself to open another after I’d finished it, and soon a week, and then two went by. Luckily, a friend let me borrow a real page-turner, The Headmaster’s Wife, and I got my momentum back. If you like ivy-covered boarding schools, mystery, and intrigue, check it out!

The Nightingale        The Headmaster's Wife

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene


What’s Better Than Pizza and Cookies?


pizza 3Enjoying them in October!  Fantastic weather, beautiful foliage, and it’s National cookiesPizza month and National Cookie month!  Feeling a little down?  Go outside with a handful of your favorite cookies.  Find a picnic table and munch on hot pizza pie!  Soak up the beautiful weather and add some tasty food.  Want to be creative and make your own cookies and pizza?  The Cheshire Library has books to inspire and tantalize!


Pizza: grill it, bake it, love it!

Pizza: a slice of heaven

Cool Pizza to Make and Bake

Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day

Revolutionary Pizza

American Pie: my search for the perfect pizza



Martha Stewart’s Cookies

Crazy About Cookies

Slice and Bake Cookies

Gluten-Free Cookies

Simply Sensational Cookies

The Gourmet Cookie Book

There are many more books to choose from.   Click on the headings Pizza and Cookies and our catalog will come up so you can browse to your heart’s content.


October 4th-10th is Fire Prevention Week!

In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire. This tragic 1871 event killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire began on October 8, but continued into and did most of its damage on October 9, 1871. Despite the tragedy of that fire, it was not the biggest that year, or even that week. That sad distinction goes to the Peshtigo Fire, the most devastating forest fire in American history. This fire also started on October 8th, 1871, and roared through Northeast Wisconsin, burning down 16 towns, killing 1,152 people, and scorching 1.2 million acres before it ended. firesafety

Since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which October 9 falls. According to the National Archives and Records Administration’s Library Information Center, Fire Prevention Week is the longest running public health and safety observance on record. The President of the United States has signed a proclamation proclaiming a national observance during that week every year since 1925. Each year has had a special fire safety theme, this years is; Hear The Beep Where You Sleep.  Every Bedroom Needs a Working Smoke Alarm! For more information on the history of this week of awareness please visit the National Fire Prevention Association website. There is a great deal of helpful information and resources throughout the site, including printable activity sheets for childrenfire1

Fire safety is an important topic to share with children, often the younger the better, so they know how to react during a fire drill or an emergency. Here is a selection of books you might want to share with your children to educate and prepare them, while entertaining them.

A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe Around Fire by Maribeth Boelts, Fireboy to the Rescue!: A Fire Safety Book by Edward Miler, Stop Drop and Roll by Margery Cuyler, Fire Safety by Lisa M. Herrington, No Dragons for Tea: Fire Safety for Kids (and Dragons) by Jean Pendziwol, Fire Safety by Dana Meachen Rau, Miss Mingo and the Fire Drill by Jamie Harper, Fire Safety in Action by Mari Schuh, Firefighters!: Speeding! Spraying! Saving! by Patricia Hubbell,If There is a Fire  by Wil Mara, Staying Safe around Fire by Lucia Raatma,Fire Drill by Paul DuBois Jacobs and Jennifer Swender, andThe Firefighters by Sue Whiting.

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In the Public Domain

 dressIn the past few years we’ve seen a sudden resurgence of fairy tales, bombarded by big-screen live-action versions of Snow White and the Huntsman, Mirror, Mirror (which came out the same year, just for overkill), Maleficent, Cinderella, Oz the Great and Powerful, the soon-to-be released Peter Pan (October 9), Alice Through the Looking Glass (spring 2016, reprising the 2010 cast of Alice in Wonderland), Beauty and the Beast (2017 release date) and so many more. While some of these have been spectacular (who can forget Cinderella’s dress!), did you ever wonder why?

It’s more than just the fact Hollywood can’t seem to come up with anything original lately, or that remakes are a fad. Movies cost huge coin to produce – truly, hundreds of millions of dollars, from pre-production through movie rights to scripting, set design, music, choreography, lighting, costuming, and advertising. One of those big costs is often acquisition of rights – buying the rights to the material from the original author. In the case of fairy tales, the cost of that right is Zero, and that is a producer’s favorite number. Zero means you can do whatever you want with the material. Yes, you could feasibly make (and I’m sure it’s been done) a very dirty film of Snow White, Cinderella, and Ariel and no one can stop you, as long as you don’t reference anyone else’s version.

We’re accustomed to believing that Disney or Touchstone or some other major Alice in Wonderland.jpg.653x0_q80_crop-smartcompany created Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, and so many other cherished films. In fact the answer is no, they did not. They only made their own version of them. Many of Disney’s greatest tales were old folk tales and fairy tales, borrowed from collections by Hans Christian Anderson or the Brothers Grimm, or bought way back when from J. M. Barrie or Rudyard Kipling. The original tales were often a bit different and usually very dark (Mermaid is a very murderous tale; the Little Match Girl freezes to death, etc). They all have one thing in common however: they are all in what’s called the Public Domain. That means they are not copyrighted, and anyone can make their own version of the tale. The stories don’t have to be bought, no author has to be fought with, and a producer can do whatever he or she wants to the story.

panIn the United States, copyright is generally good for the life of the author plus seventy years (in some instances, it is extended to as much as 120 years). If the author has good descendants and they renew on behalf of the estate, it can continue further. This is how Peter Pan is now in the public domain: J.M. Barrie died in 1937; his copyrights have expired. Treasure Island is a free e-book, because it’s in the public domain. Gone With the Wind will enter into public domain in 2031. Many of the early silent films are also free for making use of. This also holds true with music: that’s why so much classical music is used in movie and TV soundtracks: no one has to pay a penny to use it. You can tour the country playing Beethoven and Mozart all you want, and you never have to pay them a dime. Their works, like Shakespeare, and Byron, and even the Bible are all available for public use and performance.

Yes, Anne is now the public's darling, too.

Yes, Anne is now the public’s darling, too.

Now, that’s not to say you can pick up a copy of a play and start performing it for money. While the play and its characters are not under copyright, the person who planned out/composed/wrote the playbook or libretto has a copyright on the booklet or sheet music you are using – their “version” – which is why school plays cost so much (the same way “Snow White” is a public domain tale, but “Disney’s Snow White” is most definitely under copyright). Unless you’ve taken the idea of Romeo and Juliet and written up your own version, you’re going to wind up having to pay someone somewhere for your performance of the material.

Here’s one list of free public-domain books available on ebook, including both adult and children’s classics: https://www.goodreads.com/list/tag/public-domain.

So whether you look forward to some of the new, spectacularly beautiful versions of old tales coming out, or grumble about how much more money does Disney need rehashing their own blockbusters, remember the reason: movie studios are cheapskates, and copyrights don’t last forever.

Fairy tale fact: Cinderella is the most universal fairy tale. Almost every culture has a version of it. The very first known “Cinderella” story can be traced back to the story of Rhodopis, a real Greek slave girl from Thrace who married the King of Egypt. That story is from 7 BC! Our current version of Cinderella (Cendrillon) goes back to the late 1600’s France, a French version by Charles Perrault.