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On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave [Kindle Edition]

Candace Fleming
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.99
Kindle Price: $7.99
You Save: $9.00 (53%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

"Positively tailor-made for reading—or reading aloud—by flashlight," declares Kirkus Reviews in a starred review.

The phenomenally versatile, award-winning author, Candace Fleming, gives teen and older tween readers ten ghost stories sure to send chills up their spines. Set in White Cemetery, an actual graveyard outside Chicago, each story takes place during a different time period from the 1860's to the present, and ends with the narrator's death. Some teens die heroically, others ironically, but all due to supernatural causes. Readers will meet walking corpses and witness demonic posession, all against the backdrop of Chicago's rich history—the Great Depression, the World's Fair, Al Capone and his fellow gangsters.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 6-9-On a foggy Chicago night, Mike Kowalski finds himself in a forgotten graveyard dedicated to teenagers whose lives were cut short. Thinking he's going to die, he soon learns that the ghostly specters closing in on him only want to tell him how they met their demises. So begins this collection of stories, each ghost stepping up to relay his or her journey from life to death. According to the author's notes, some of the stories are loosely based on old tales, like W. W. Jacobs's "The Monkey's Paw," while others are original creations. Some are realistic and tragic, while others are steeped in fantasy and colorful embellishment. Fleming's writing style is effective as she switches from character to character, volleying from the 1800s to the present, giving each ghost its own unique voice in its own historically accurate setting. However, the execution is unsuccessful. As Mike listens to each story, he is utterly uninvolved. Each one ends repetitively with the next ghost stepping up basically saying, "You think that's bad; Just listen to my story!" trying to top the previous tale. This gets monotonous, and since Mike is so passive, readers begin to lose focus about the point of the stories. The book ends with Mike driving home late at night, having supposedly learned a big life lesson. The problem is, knowing virtually nothing about him, who's to say he needed to learn a lesson anyway? This collection feels empty; it's unfortunate that some of the more interesting tales, like Evelyn's story of living in her twin's shadow during the time of the Chicago World's Fair, weren't more fully fleshed out, with some substance and depth.-Lauren Newman, Northern Burlington County Regional Middle School, Columbus, NJα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus Reviews Best of Children's Books 2012

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2012:
“Light on explicit grue but well endowed with macabre detail and leavening dashes of humor.”

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, May 21, 2012:
“A welcoming and well-written introduction to many styles of horror.”

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Middle school chills with a hint of sophistication September 14, 2012
This book is a spine-tingling series of ghost stories, loosely held together by a teen's narrative as he visits an overgrown cemetery late one night. It starts with a good turn - Mike offers a ride to a drenched girl, who leaves her shoes in his car. Upon returning them, he is told that Carol Anne drowned 60 years ago, and returns once a year on the anniversary of her death. In the forgotten graveyard, Mike hears atmospheric voices from forgotten teens, each of whom met an early death. From Edgar in the 1800s, tormented by images in the wallpaper, to Scott, whose camera may have photographed his own death, each ghost story is about 10 pages long. They are beautifully plotted and intelligently written, with enough twists and turns and rising mists and cobwebbed attics to send goose bumps up even adult spines. A great choice for adventurous middle school readers who want to rise above simple thrills for sophisticated yet chilling tales.
About me: I'm a middle school/high school librarian
How I got this book: Purchased for the school library
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Edgar's revenge January 28, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Has an eerily spectacular start... Hooks you immediately, but heads south when the rubber ducky takes a nose dive via sinister sea monkey-like serpent beast! But when "Edgar" and his "ponderings" plagiarizes Poe's Berenice... I was stopped dead in my own literary tracks- too close to the master for comfort! (I grin). Those damn pearly whites. It's been done before- literally.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't quite live up to my expectations January 29, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was so excited to read this book that I didn't even wait for it to go on sale. I bought it at full price right after Christmas (which is something I normally don't do). After all, I love a good ghost story more than almost anything. So I cracked into it almost as soon as it arrived on my doorstep. Unfortunately I think I built it up a little too much before hand. It wasn't a total disappointment but it didn't really live up to expectations.

Let's start on a positive not though, shall we? There were things that I loved about this book. The premise, for one, was great. A teenage boy gets stranded in a graveyard surrounded by teen ghosts after trying to return the shoes of a phantom hitchhiker. He has to listen to their stories before he can leave. Super creepy right? I know. The plot is set up with Mike's story as the backdrop with each short story tying the book together. This was a really great set-up and It made for a fast-paced, interesting read. I also really appreciated that Fleming gave each ghost it's own unique voice which tied in with their social background and time period. This really helped draw me into the stories.

Unfortunately this is where the positives stopped for me. There were several problems with this book. First of all, many of the stories are retellings of well-known short stories. And while retellings can be fun and all, ask yourselves, do we really need another incarnation of The Monkey's Paw? I think not. Not only that, but they weren't even switched around to be their own versions of the classic stories for the most part. The next issue I had was in the silliness of some stories. I wanted a book about ghosts not killer sea monkeys from outer space. It was a cute idea, but it just wasn't what I was looking for or expecting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
On the Day I Died is a sometimes cheesy, sometimes chilling, but always fun collection of short stories recounting the deaths of teens throughout the past two centuries in the Chicago area. I very much like this type of set-up in a short story collection, where there is a frame story that gives a reason for and ties together all of the other stories in the collection. In this case it is Mike coming to the graveyard to listen to the tales of the deceased.

Candace Fleming makes use of a variety of cultures throughout time, and I loved how true to each time period's particular style of horror these stories stayed. The Depression with its wise guys and gangsters, the 50s with its fascination with outer space, the obsession with objects in the 70s-80s, and the Gothic feel of the 19th century. Sticking to the vernacular of each time period really helped set the mood of each character, even if it did seem a bit extreme at times.

Waiting to hear how each character finally kicked the bucket was a bit like waiting for the bell man's arm to be chopped off in Hot Tub Time Machine. You know it's coming, you're just not sure how, and the anticipation had me jumping the gun on more than one occasion. The ghosts in the graveyard get that whole barroom story-topping mentality of `you think that's bad? You should hear my story', which really made me grin. Some of the stories were laughable (Johnnie), some were incredibly cheesy (David), but some of them did give me genuine chills (Gina and Edgar). Candace Fleming retells the classic The Monkey's Paw in a modernized setting, and also weaves in aspects of other classics like Berenice and The Yellow Wallpaper.

I'd recommend On the Day I Died to younger teens who like to be scared, particularly anyone who was a big fan of the Goosebumps series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome May 21, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
funny and thrilling! the best story I know! good for teenagers. is a bit gross. but in other words, great! :)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Save your time and read something else.
Published 21 days ago by Greg Welch
2.0 out of 5 stars Too creepy
Just read this book - it's a nominee for next year's favorite 2014-15 Black-Eyed Susan book (Maryland award). Am I too old (senior citizen) or don't I get it? Read more
Published 5 months ago by sbrook201
4.0 out of 5 stars How would you like to leave this world? The tales ghosts tell of the...
A group of ghosts want to share their death stories with a fellow "living" teen. Mike Kowalski is lured to a Chicago cemetery for teens and is trapped into hearing the... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Cheryl Potter
4.0 out of 5 stars Really good
I thought it was a good read
It was funny, happy, sad, suspensful, and mysterious. A book that I would recommend to others
Published 18 months ago by s.boorstein
4.0 out of 5 stars On the Day I Died
Book #79 Read in 2012
On the Day I Died by Candance Fleming

This book is a collection of stories told by teenage ghosts. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Melissa A. Palmer
5.0 out of 5 stars Daughter says, "It's awesome."
It has unique characters. It also has an entertaining plot about common life and death experiences and a blend of fantasy and realistic fiction.
Published 21 months ago by ryan hopkins
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Stories, Bad Connection
I'm a huge fan of the macabre in books, particularly those written for children. I find it fascinating that we expose our children to death at such a young age, prepping them for... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Paul K. Boran
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars: A creepy set of ghostly tales perfect for teens and...
Mike scrunches down the gas pedal, his phone ringing in the seat next to him. It is late, and he knows his mother is on the other end of that call, ready to unleash a torrent of... Read more
Published on September 12, 2012 by Heidi
5.0 out of 5 stars I just couldn't put it down!
Hott Synopsis
Ignoring his mother's calls reminding him that he is, once again, late for curfew, Mike races towards home. Read more
Published on August 27, 2012 by Gina Hott
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More About the Author

I have always been a storyteller. Even before I could write my name, I could tell a good tale. And I told them all the time. As a preschooler, I told my neighbors all about my three-legged cat named Spot. In kindergarten, I told my classmates about the ghost that lived in my attic. And in first grade I told my teacher, Miss Harbart, all about my family's trip to Paris, France.

I told such a good story that people always thought I was telling the truth. But I wasn't. I didn't have a three-legged cat or a ghost in my attic, and I'd certainly never been to Paris, France. I simply enjoyed telling a good story... and seeing my listener's reaction.

Sure, some people might have said I was a seven-year old fibber. But not my parents. Instead of calling my stories "fibs" they called them "imaginative." They encouraged me to put my stories down on paper. I did. And amazingly, once I began writing, I couldn't stop. I filled notebook after notebook with stories, poems, plays. I still have many of those notebooks. They're precious to me because they are a record of my writing life from elementary school on.

In second grade, I discovered a passion for language. I can still remember the day my teacher, Miss Johnson, held up a horn-shaped basket filled with papier-mache pumpkins and asked the class to repeat the word "cornucopia." I said it again and again, tasted the word on my lips. I tested it on my ears. That afternoon, I skipped all the way home from school chanting, "Cornucopia! Cornucopia!" From then on, I really began listening to words--to the sounds they made, and the way they were used, and how they made me feel. I longed to put them together in ways that were beautiful, and yet told a story.

As I grew, I continued to write stories. But I never really thought of becoming an author. Instead, I went to college where I discovered yet another passion--history. I didn't realize it then, but studying history is really just an extension of my love of stories. After all, some of the best stories are true ones -- tales of heroism and villainy made more incredible by the fact they really happened.

After graduation, I got married and had children. I read to them a lot, and that's when I discovered the joy and music of children's books. I simply couldn't get enough of them. With my two sons in tow, I made endless trips to the library. I read stacks of books. I found myself begging, "Just one more, pleeeeease!" while my boys begged for lights-out and sleep. Then it struck me. Why not write children's books? It seemed the perfect way to combine all the things I loved: stories, musical language, history, and reading. I couldn't wait to get started.

But writing children's books is harder than it looks. For three years I wrote story after story. I sent them to publisher after publisher. And I received rejection letter after rejection letter. Still, I didn't give up. I kept trying until finally one of my stories was pulled from the slush pile and turned into a book. My career as a children's author had begun.

For more information visit my website:

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