Early Book Review: On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave by Candace Fleming

On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave by Candace Fleming is a middle grade and young adult book scheduled for release on July 10 2012. I would recommend it for older children, around eleven through middle and high school students due to the ages of the protagonists and spooky nature. The frame of the story is one teenage boy's drive home. Mike is driving home, too fast and not paying enough attention to the road. A girl on the road brings him to a stop, and despite his mother's repeated phone calls, he drives her home. This encounter gets stranger, and brings him to the girl's grave to return her shoes. There he is surrounded by their graves, and ghosts, of teens that died far too young and need to tell the tales of how they died. Some tales have a supernatural leaning, others ironic, and others tragic. In the background there are historical facts offered in a way that will capture the imagination. The stories are engaging and just creepy enough to give you goosebumps, but not to keep readers awake at night.

Who doesn't love a good ghost story? On the Day I Died bundles short ghost stories in the frame of another. It works beautifully. The stories contain threads of real events, real places, and urban legends woven together to create a fascinating whole. I loved that the cemetery where the story telling takes place is real, and has stories about hauntings surrounding it. While most of the urban legends and historical locations are from the Chicago area, most are ones that can still resonate with readers that have never been near Chicago. Doesn't every area have a legend about a ghostly girl getting a ride home? In my area she leaves behind a shawl or jacket rather than her shoes, but the idea is the same. Despite the local history and landmarks of Chicago used, most of these stories could happen anywhere, if you believe in that sort of thing of course.

I highly recommend On the Day I Died to readers age eleven and older, including teens and adults. I think middle school and high school aged students that like scary stories and ghost stories will be very happy with this book. I felt nostalgic, thinking of the Goosebumps book series (which is still going strong) and television show (which I have seen reappear) that I fondly remember being first released. Those that like the Scary Story series of short story collections, will love this book. Anyone that likes ghost stories, urban legends, and spooky tales will enjoy this collection.
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