There are so many wonderful things about working in a children’s library and one of my favorites is that this time of year, the kids start yearning for spooky books and we have the perfect excuse to scour our shelves for all of the spine-tingling terror appropriate for our young patrons. Today’s selection, geared towards readers in the 1st to 3rd grade contingent, is the Eerie Elementary series written by Jack Chabert. Each book in the series is a scary-fun read for kids who are ready to be slightly spooked out by their reading.
Sam Graves starts the day in a most unwanted way. The school principal called his mom last night to inform her that he’d been chosen to be a hall monitor. He didn’t even know Eerie Elementary had hall monitors but the shiny orange sash across his body confirmed that it was true. After teasing him a bit, Sam’s friends Antonio and Lucy head to class, leaving him alone to… monitor? He wasn’t really sure.
He begins walking the halls and spots a classmate outside on the playground. He calls out that the bell has rung and the boy races through the door without saying a word. Sam notices that the boy has left his hat on the playground so he heads out to grab it.
It was so cold that he could see his breath. He definitely needed to make this quick. He looked up at the school and thought about how it looked like a crumbling, red brick castle. It was rundown, with chipping paint and even a pair of crows perched on the roof like sentinels. The whole scene really creeped him out!
Not wanting to be outside any longer than necessary, he made a beeline for the hat. He stepped into the playground sand and all of a sudden, he was sinking! But not in the way that you’d normally sink into sand. No, this was wet and he was sinking FAST! It didn’t take long for him to be in over his shoulders. As he braces to be swallowed whole, he was suddenly yanked out by the wrist. Whew!
It was Mr. Nekobi, Eerie Elementary’s caretaker. Sam tried to explain that the playground had tried to eat him but Mr. Nekobi seems to blame Sam! He told Sam that he wouldn’t last long as a hall monitor if he wasn’t more careful. Curious, Sam asked why he cared so much about whether he kept the position but all Mr. Nekobi would say was that he’d chosen him for the role himself.
Completely confused, Sam stumbles to his locker and is overcome by the stench of bad breath! What could be causing that smell? He finally makes it to class, where his teacher is assigning parts for the class play. Sam should be paying attention but he’s too distracted by the tree just outside the classroom window. It looked just like a creepy hand.
He was also keenly aware of the classroom clock’s ‘tick-tock’ rhythm. It sounded over and over in his ears until it gave way to a sound that was more akin to a human heartbeat. He couldn’t get the sound out of his head until the bell rang, signaling the end of the day. School may be over for everyone else but Sam has to stay for hall monitor duty.
After a few minutes, no one else is around and the hallways are empty. He sees no reason why he shouldn’t sit down for a few minutes. But almost as soon as he sits down, his eyelids grow very heavy and he quickly drifts off to sleep. At some point, he wakes up all alone, in the dark. What time is it? He calls out to see if anyone will answer and in response, every locker door in the hallway slams open at once! He heart is pounding now. He’s absolutely terrified. Suddenly, all of the locker dogs swing shut!
Hoping he’s asleep and this is some horrible nightmare, he pulls on the front doors of the school. But it’s no use, they’re locked tight. He’s all alone inside Eerie Elementary. Suddenly, the double doors open and then shut again, sending Sam flying backwards. He runs to his classroom, pressing his face against the window, hoping to see anyone who might be able to help him.
Instead, the creepy tree he’s observed in class earlier bursts through the window and a branch grabs hold of his leg! He manages to wrestle free but again, it reaches out for him. The locker doors begin slamming again and this time, all of the classroom doors up and down the hallway do, too. He was terrified but slamming doors were nothing compared to the skeleton, staring at him from the end of the hallway. All of a sudden, the skeleton begins charging toward him and Sam realizes that it’s Mr. Nekobi,
He says something about the school not having been this active in years, then tells Sam to go home. When he gets home, his mom doesn’t believe a thing he says. The next day at school, Sam is anxious for Antonio and Lucy to see the condition of the school. Once they see the broken window and the dented lockers, they’ll have no choice but to believe him. But of course, everything looks as it should. No broken window, all lockers in working order. Sam’s friends are really starting to worry about him.
At recess, Sam goes looking for Mr. Nekobi. He finds him at the entrance to the janitor’s closet. He spies as the old man looks around to see if he’s being watched. He then tugs twice on a dim lightbulb and a secret passageway opens! At the last moment, Sam dives through the opening. He finds himself in a large storage area, full of remnants and cast-offs from the school’s earlier days.
Mr. Nekobi knows he’s there and begins to explain that the school is alive. Of course, Sam thinks he’s crazy. But when Mr. Nekobi tells him to place his hands on the wall, he can feel the school breathing! And not only is it alive; the school is a furious beast. A terrible monster. And there’s only one person who can keep all of the school’s students safe. Sam Graves – Hall Monitor!
The Eerie Elementary series is perfect for 7-10-year-olds who enjoy a bit of a scare. I think it’s worthwhile to not that the descriptions of the treatment Sam endures from the school might be a bit frightening for kids who aren’t naturally interested in spooky stories. You may want to scan the pages first to see where your child might fall on the horror-spectrum. But if your child enjoys the thrill, you’re in luck as there are 8 books in the series. Each book runs about 90 pages long and all are fully illustrated in black and white. Hope you enjoy these boooooks!