Readaloud of the Week: Stonewords

STONEWORDS by Pam Conrad

Continuing our month of spooky readalouds, I give you Stonewords, a book that's part time-travel story, part ghost story, and all creepy.

Zoe doesn't think it's strange when her very entertaining friend Zoe Louise disappears whenever a grown-up enters the room. She's not worried when she sees an old gravestone with the name ZOE on it. Zoe dismisses the fact that while she is growing up, Zoe Louise is always eleven years old and celebrating her birthday. But when Zoe follows Zoe Louise up the back stairs and finds herself in the late nineteenth century, Zoe realizes that something strange is going on. Slowly putting the pieces together, Zoe realizes that her friend is from the past—and that she's going to die if Zoe doesn't do something about it.

The chills in Stonewords: A Ghost Story come largely from ghostly Zoe Louise, who is petulant, willful, and increasingly terrifying as the tale progresses. (In fact, if Zoe had other friends, it's unlikely that she'd put up with Zoe Louise, who is a spoiled brat of a ghost.) As the book builds inexorably toward its climax—can Zoe change history and save her friend?—the book becomes un-put-down-able. If Zoe changes the past and saves Zoe Louise, she loses her best friend. If she doesn't, Zoe Louise will wither away to nothing. 

This is a genuinely scary book (with a few gruesome bits to boot), so it's only for kids who can handle a good scare. But those readers who like being spooked will appreciate its eerie vibe.