Thursday, June 2, 2011

Booktalk: All the Lovely Bad Ones [Virginia Readers' Choice]

If you’re a 13-year-old boy with a love of playing pranks on people, and you are visiting your grandmother’s old house for the summer, it’s fairly normal to think about freaking other people out by imitating ghostly noises in the night. Travis and his sister Corey love pranks: they’re natural pranksters. Their grandmother’s old house is actually an inn which takes guests, including some guests who are ghost-hunters. So obviously, we have a no-brainer here. Travis and Corey strategize: Corey will wear a white nightgown, ghostly makeup and walk around a grove of trees; the ghostly noises they make will spook the inn’s guests. It works beautifully. To keep up the illusion, Corey and Travis need to keep doing their nightly ghost pranks. But when Travis returns to the grove, he sees a dark shape near him, ducking out of sight. It’s not his sister. Turns out it’s a real ghost, and there are more than one. One of them, Miss Ada, is seriously evil and would love to bring Corey and Travis down with her. Sadly, Corey and Travis woke these ghosts from their slumber. Now who's been pranked? All the Lovely Bad Ones: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn.

All the Lovely Bad Ones: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn. 182 p. 2008: Clarion. Virginia Readers’ Choice for 2011-2012. Because this has some frightening/tragic content, I personally would booktalk it starting at 6th and 7th grade and not younger.


  1. I have not read this one yet, but I did hear about the frightening/dark content. I'm not sure it will be appropriate for my 3-5 graders. I wonder why the VRC committee chose to include it as an upper elementary choice.

  2. That's a great question and comment. My personal guess is that they wanted a scary story, and Mary Downing Hahn is wonderful, and perhaps they forgot how scary certain passages were. I tend to do this too, myself. A parent will say, "But is [Book x] too scary for a 4th grader?" and I've forgotten all the traumatic parts a day later.