GRADES 6-8 Submitted by Elizabeth Borné, Student, LSU School of Library and Information Science
Baton Rouge, LA
Deep and Dark and Dangerous: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn. Houghton Mifflin. 2007. 187 pages.
Ali's summer begins with her discovery of a strange photo. She spends the summer at her aunt's lake house and is determined to uncover the story behind the photo. Ali meets an odd young girl named Sissy at the lake and thinks Sissy might the key to unlocking the secrets of both the photo and Ali's dark and puzzling dreams. Follow Ali's adventure as she tries to solve the mysteries of this very strange and spooky summer.
2008 Edgar Award nominee
A former children's librarian, Mary Downing Hahn has written an average of one book per year since her first novel was published in 1979. She has always loved to draw and make up stories, and she won the prestigious Scott O'Dell Award for Stepping on the Cracks.
Sources of author information: http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/contributor.jsp?id=167426 and http://www.childrensbookguild.org/hahn.html OTHER TITLES BY AUTHOR
All the Lovely Bad Ones: A Ghost Story. Clarion. 2008. 182 pages. While spending the summer at their grandmother's Vermont inn, two prankster siblings awaken young ghosts from the inn's distant past who refuse to "rest in peace."
The Doll in the Garden: A Ghost Story. Clarion. 2007. 128 pages. After Ashley and Kristi find an antique doll buried in old Miss Cooper's garden, they discover that they can enter a ghostly turn-of-the-century world by going through a hole in the hedge.
The Old Willis Place: A Ghost Story. Clarion. 2004. 199 pages. Tired of the rules that have bound them ever since "the bad thing happened," twelve-year-old Diana ignores her brother's warnings and befriends the daughter of the new caretaker, setting in motion events that lead to the release of the spirit of an evil, crazy woman who once ruled the old Willis place.
Time for Andrew: A Ghost Story. Clarion. 2007. 165 pages. When he goes to spend the summer with his great-aunt in the family's old house, eleven-year-old Drew is drawn eighty years into the past to trade places with his great-great-uncle who is dying of diphtheria.
Wait till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story. Clarion. 2008. 184 pages. Molly and Michael dislike their spooky new stepsister Heather but realize that they must try to save her when she seems ready to follow a ghost child to her doom.
Source of book summaries: Library of Congress Catalog.
Breathe: A Ghost Story. By Cliff McNish. Carolrhoda Books. 2006. 261 pages. When he and his mother move into an old farmhouse in the English countryside, asthmatic, twelve-year-old Jack discovers that he can communicate with the ghosts inhabiting the house and inadvertently establishes a relationship with a tormented, malevolent spirit that threatens to destroy both his mother and himself.
Dead Man's Gold and Other Stories. By Paul Yee; pictures by Harvey Chan. Publishers Group West. 2002. 112 pages. Ten ghost stories about Chinese people who, having come to North America to make their fortunes, encounter ghosts who either help or hinder their success.
Jade Green: A Ghost Story. By Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Aladdin Paperbacks. 2001. 169 pages. While living with her uncle in a house haunted by the ghost of a young woman, recently orphaned Judith Sparrow wonders if her one small transgression causes mysterious happenings.
Loch: A Novel. By Paul Zindel. HarperCollins. 1994. 209 pages. Fifteen-year-old Loch and his younger sister join their father on a scientific expedition searching for enormous prehistoric creatures sighted in a Vermont lake, but soon discover that the expedition's leaders aren't interested in preserving the creatures.
Story Time. By Edward Bloor. Harcourt. 2004. 424 pages. George and Kate are promised the best education but instead face obsessed administrators, endless tests, and evil spirits when they are transferred to Whittaker Magnet School.
Sources of book summaries: Library of Congress Catalog and WorldCat.
This book lends itself to a number of classroom connections in a variety of subjects, including science, language arts, social studies, art, and drama.
Explore mysteries related to science at the National Health Museum: The Mystery Spot. These are interactive scientific mystery activities. Teacher resources are included: http://www.accessexcellence.org/AE/mspot/.
Science Mystery is a site featuring interactive activities based on mysteries involving scientific content: http://www.sciencemystery.com. There are sections for both students and teachers.
Everyday mysteries related to science are featured at this Library of Congress site: http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries. Students can investigate scientific questions and answers here and submit their own questions.
Some people who believe in ghosts theorize that they emit electromagnetic fields that can be detected and measured. General information on electromagnetic fields can be found at this World Health Organization site: http://www.who.int/peh-emf/about/WhatisEMF/en.
Ali has a recurring dream about a mysterious girl and wonders what it means. This worksheet offers journal writing prompts about dreams: http://pbskids.org/itsmylife/journal/dreams_journal.html.
The 5 Ws of Scary Story Writing: http://www.readwritethink.org/lesson_images/lesson407/5w.pdf.
How to Write Your Own Scary Story: http://www.readwritethink.org/lesson_images/lesson407/write-scary2.pdf.
Selected Works of Edgar Allan Poe: http://www.poemuseum.org/selected_works/index.html. Familiarize students with these classic scary stories and discuss how they compare to and contrast with Hahn's modern scary story.
Write a persuasive essay on whether or not ghosts exist.
Persuasive essay lesson plan with a kinesthetic approach: http://www.lessonplanspage.com/LAKinestheticApproachPersuasiveWriting510.htm.
Here's a fun interactive mystery writing activity with acclaimed author Joan Lowery Nixon: http://teacher.scholastic.com/writewit/mystery/index.htm. Includes a mystery by the author, mystery writing tips and challenges, tips for revision, and an opportunity for students to publish their mystery writing online.
Ali's mom reads Emily Dickinson poetry. Ali says Emily Dickinson is "not a good choice in my opinion for a depressed person. Dickinson's poems were full of things I didn't quite understand but that frightened me. Her mind was haunted, I thought, by death and sorrow and uncertainty."
This site features a biography of Dickinson and numerous links to her poems: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/155.
Analyze these first two stanzas of the Dickinson poem "One need not be a chamber to be haunted":
Have students write a journal entry about the meaning and then discuss. (Full poem is here: http://www.bartleby.com/113/4069.html.) What do students think this poem is about? Can they relate it to the book and its characters?
Social Studies: The book's Maine setting plays a significant role in the book. Study facts about the state of Maine, focusing on its unique geography.
General information on the geography of Maine can be found here: http://geography.howstuffworks.com/united-states/geography-of-maine.htm.
Some facts about Maine: http://www.state.me.us/legis/senate/statehouse/facts/facts.htm.
Maine firsts through history: http://www.state.me.us/legis/general/history/hist2.htm.
State facts: http://www.thingstodo.com/states/ME/facts.htm.
Aunt Dulcie is a painter who wants "to capture the power in water and rocks and trees – capture it as it captures me." She hopes that this kind of painting will help her to "free herself." What does she mean by this? How can painting help you "free yourself"?
Aunt Dulcie uses tempera paints. Explore this kind of painting; here are some lesson plan ideas: http://www.princetonol.com/groups/iad/Files/tempera.htm.
Here is some historical background on tempera painting: http://www.renaissanceconnection.org/lesson_science_egg.html.
Ali is an amateur detective of sorts in the book. Students can view and discuss the artwork of detective fiction featured on stamps worldwide: http://www.trussel.com/detfic/detect.htm. Have students design a postage stamp for the book.
Check out this art history-themed mystery adventure: http://www.eduweb.com/pintura/index.html. Includes teacher resources: http://www.eduweb.com/pintura/teacher.html.
Drama: Stage dramatic readings of scary stories.
This site features ghost stories written by fifth and sixth graders: http://jamesgang.com/campfire/.
Here are more scary stories from American Folklore: http://www.americanfolklore.net/spooky-stories.html.
This book has many scary moments. Which part of the book did you find most frightening? Why?
Do you believe in ghosts? Why or why not? Did this book affect your thoughts on ghosts in one way or another? Explain.
Were you afraid of ghosts of other scary things when you were younger that you're not afraid of now? What were you afraid of? How did you overcome your fear?
Do you like scary stories, TV shows, and movies? Why or why not? Explain your reasons.
Additional discussion questions:
Motivating Readers With Missouri's Reading Incentive Award Programs: The Mark Twain Nominees
Ghost stories by writers including Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Edgar Award Winners
The prestigious Edgar Award is given annually to books chosen as the year's best mysteries by the Mystery Writers of America. Students can search by category, including Best Juvenile and Best Young Adult. (Deep and Dark and Dangerous was a 2008 nominee in the Best Juvenile category.)
The Center for Children's Books: Mysteries for Young Adults