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Behind the Bookcase Hardcover – October 9, 2012


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 650L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (October 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385740719
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385740715
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #975,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4-7-When her grandmother dies, Sarah's family spends a week traveling by car from California to get the dusty and smelly house cleaned up and ready for sale. Sarah's mother has no fond memories of her childhood home or her mother, and the dark corners and strange noises spook timid Sarah. When she finds an unfinished letter written by the grandmother she never knew that refers to "strange things happening behind the bookcase," she is curious and shimmies the bookcase from against the wall and travels to a strange land called Scotopia, where she meets a talking cat, a boy with half a face, a walking hand, and all sorts of strange creatures. This fantasy takes the creepiness of Neil Gaiman's Coraline (HarperCollins, 2002), mixes it liberally with the surrealism of Alice in Wonderland, and adds a dash of Edward Gorey through moody black-and-white illustrations. Readers who are patient with the seeming randomness will soon be rewarded with a suspenseful, magical adventure that, while there is resolution, ends with a promise of a sequel. Sarah and her brother bicker constantly and initially work against each other but soon join forces to prevent the destruction of both our world and Scotopia.-Brenda Kahn, Tenakill Middle School, Closter, NJα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

About the Author

MARK STEENSLAND became a journalist at the age of 18, writing about movies for such magazines as Prevue and American Cinematographer. He has also directed, and produced numerous award-winning films that have played in festivals around the world. Behind the Bookcase is his first novel.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 12 customer reviews
It reminded most of A Stitch in Time.
Amazon Customer
There are illustrations throughout the book and they just add to its wonder.
Gorelenore
I would recommend this book as a great and easy read.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By I'm not giving my pen name to a machine on October 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I grabbed this book last week because I was intrigued by the cover and book jacket snippets. Sarah arrives at the home of her *deceased* Grandma Winnie, who has had a strange relationship with Sarah's mother and been considered an "eccentric," or a little bit more, for some time. The initial part of the book is a great creepy table-setter, which makes it a shame that the story moves on quickly. Sarah finds her way into a land called Scotopia, where shadows come from, kicking off a "Through the Looking Glass" type story that is often done in YA literature.

The story works well; there is no character who is playing their full hand and it's hard not to feel uneasy (in that good, ghost story kind of way) as you follow Sarah's adventure. Most importantly, some of the settings and characters are downright creepy. Kelly Murphy's illustrations appear throughout the story to establish a darker mood, and I was certain I'd keep reading as soon as I saw the image of a "sentinel." The story pushes on fast and fantastical; I was a bit frustrated, as I like to linger in strange places, but the plot is intriguing and the hectic pace doesn't change that the pieces of the story are easy to enjoy.

I've read this with one student, who enjoyed it greatly. She liked most of the settings and characters encountered and was eager to talk about creepy moments in the story. I think it's a great fit in a classroom library as a book that is scary without being too dark. For parents, I'd recommend reading ahead through a library before buying for your child. I think it's fairly palatable, but your child's reaction may vary.

I do have two quibbles with the story; the first is that Sarah feels like a vehicle for the events more than a person sometimes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. Jackson on October 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I received an advance reader's copy of this book from the author for my birthday, and what a great surprise! This is exactly the kind of book I loved as a kid: secret passages into other worlds, mysterious characters (who are the good guys and who are the bad guys?), a sinister setting, and a talking cat. And since I was a scaredy-cat (still am, truth be told), I love that this book is creepy without being nightmare-worthy for kids. A great read-aloud choice, at Halloween or any time!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 12, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mark Steensland builds a wonderful set of worlds that interconnect behind a child's bookcase. The creatures and settings are unique and memorable. It reminded most of A Stitch in Time.

My favorite character by far is Balthazat, King of the Cats. What a fun villain! As owner of a cat who consistently wishes to murder me, I found Balthazat a believable evil overlord.
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By Maisara Chowdhury on October 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found out about this book at my library.I immediately loved it. It was so detailed and descriptive.I just had to get the book on my kindle.It is a little creepy and mysterious.If your someone who likes mysteries,but don't like being scared this is a excellent book for you. :)
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By Amazon Customer on August 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Reviewed by Avery, age 9
This book is about a little girl who goes to spend the summer with her grandmother and isn't too excited about it. That is until she finds an old letter her grandmother wrote that talks about strange things behind the bookcase. Of course she has to see for herself and what she discovers is more then she could ever have imagined.
"Sarah gulped. It was the biggest hand she'd ever seen..."
This book is a mix between Coraline, Narnia, Alice in Wonderland, and The Secret Garden, but with its own twist. I know I would be so excited to find a secret world that no one else knew about. I like books that have pictures in them when I read and this one had plenty. It helps me know what the writer was seeing when they wrote the story. I would recommend this book as a great and easy read.
*This book was provided in exchange for an honest review*
*You can view the original review at Musing with Crayolakym and San Francisco & Sacramento City Book Review
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By RAH on May 27, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I loved it!I could picture myself in Sarah's shoes,except I have two sisters that are even worse than Billy. Jeez Louise!
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