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The Crossroads: A Haunted Mystery Hardcover – May 27, 2008


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 620L (What's this?)
  • Series: A Haunted Mystery (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers; 1st Edition First Printing edition (May 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375846972
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375846977
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,120,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–8—A well-told ghost story with plenty of twists and chills. Eleven-year-old Zack believes that his mother, who died from cancer, haunts his New York City apartment, continually disapproving of his behavior. He is immensely relieved when Dad marries Judy, a kind woman, and they move to Connecticut. Unfortunately, Zack cannot seem to escape the dead. Shortly after arriving in North Chester, they meet Gerda Spratling, the last survivor of the town's founding family. The abrasive woman mourns the loss of her fiancé, making a weekly pilgrimage to the crossroads outside Zack's yard where a massive oak marks the spot where Clint died almost 50 years ago. When Zack sees this tree, he fears that something evil is trapped within, and after the oak is split open by lightning, it soon becomes apparent that a malevolent spirit has been set free. With the help of Judy and a new friend, Zack takes on the menace that is plaguing their town and riling up a plethora of ghosts. This riveting tale is written in short, easy-to-read chapters, making it a good choice for reluctant readers. Throughout the story, the main characters grow closer to one another and gain heroic traits while the "bad guys" reveal greater depths of wickedness and insanity. Readers will relate to Zack and enjoy the book's scare factor and adventure.—Jessica Miller, New Britain Public Library, CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* If Grabenstein’s first YA book were to receive a one-word review, the word would be Coooool, a term that applies in a variety of ways—from the book’s cover image (a face peering out of the bark of a tree) and its hitchhiking, hot-rodding ghosts to its creepy atmosphere, believable story, and suspense that engulfs readers from the very first page. Even the characters are cool, including contemporary, doo-wop, and even Dickensian types. Grabenstein, who has won the Anthony Award for his adult mysteries and whose writing career encompassed writing for television and work for the Muppets, brings a great sense of timing to this mysterious fright ride. Zack Jennings, a kid uprooted after his mother’s death and his father’s remarriage, sees a leering face in a gnarled tree in the park near New York City’s American Museum of Natural History. A move to Connecticut doesn’t extricate Zack from evil apparently lodging in trees. Readers soon learn that at a crossroads just behind Zack’s new home there’s an oak tree capable of branching out into murder—and a number of dissatisfied ghosts that prey on passing motorists. An absorbing psychological thriller (the ghost of Zack’s malevolent mother plays a part), as well as a rip-roaring ghost story, this switches points of view among humans, trees, and ghosts with astonishing élan. Expect lots of requests. Grades 5-8. --Connie Fletcher

More About the Author

Chris Grabenstein is the co-author with James Patterson of the #1 New York Times Bestseller I FUNNY. He is also an award-winning author of books for children and adults, a playwright, screenwriter, and former advertising executive and improvisational comedian. Winner of two Anthony and three Agatha Awards, Chris used to write for Jim Henson's Muppets, was president of the New York Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America, and co-wrote the screenplay for the CBS-TV movie The Christmas Gift starring John Denver. Chris lives in New York City with his wife, three cats, and a rescue dog named Fred, who starred on Broadway in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. You can visit Chris (and Fred) at www.ChrisGrabenstein.com

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Grabenstein has written a sequel detailing more adventures for Zack and Judy.
Mel Odom
The book is easy enough for most readers, but because of the ghosts and some of the scary content, I selected the older age group as a recommendation for readers.
TeensReadToo
The story was fun to read and had lots of great twists that kept the story moving!
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lesa Holstine on June 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"Have you ever seen a face hidden in the bark of a tree and known that the man trapped inside wanted to hurt you?" It's the perfect opening for Chris Grabenstein's ghost story, The Crossroads.

Grabenstein, author of the John Ceepak/Jersey Shore mysteries, and the Christopher Miller holiday thrillers, has tried his hand at a book for young readers, ages 9 to 12. And, he captures boys and ghost stories beautifully.

At eleven, Zack Jennings is moving to his father's hometown, North Chester, Connecticut, with his father and new stepmother, Judy. None of them know that their house sits on a haunted crossroads, an intersection where 41 people died in a collision with a car, a bus, and a police motorcycle. There are stories about the intersection and the killer trees at the crossroads, but newcomers have to discover the horrors themselves.

Zack is haunted by the memories of his mother, a woman who died of cancer. Because she blamed him for her life, he blames himself for her death. He'll discover a new life in Connecticut - a fun stepmother, a dog, a best friend unlike any friend he could imagine. And, he'll meet the woman who still tends the memory of her dead fiancé by bringing roses to the tree at the crossroads. When Zack's father said they'd move for a new life, he had no idea what Zack was getting into.

My compliments to the author for avoiding stereotypes. Judy, the stepmother, is a wonderful character, a children's author who enjoys Zack and his imagination. And, as a librarian, I appreciate the Mrs. Emerson, the public librarian. She does her job well, but she also shows spunk. And how many adult readers picture librarians going to "submarine races"?

Grabenstein does a wonderful job bringing this ghost story to life.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ami Hassler on June 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Zack Jennings is a fairly average kid. He's just moved from the city to Connecticut with his Dad and a fabulous new stepmom. Now he can even have a dog. It's a chance to start over after the death of his mother, except there is this mean, nasty ghost who has been waiting for fifty years to get revenge on those who played a roll in his death, and the Jennings family happens to be on his list.

While there is nothing particularly special about this horror novel, I found I enjoyed it much the way I enjoyed the movie, The Frighteners. That's the one where Michael J. Fox has developed psychic abilities after his wife is killed in a car accident. The movie is not exactly a comedy, but comedic moments are skillfully thrown in to mitigate any scene being too scary, and Grabenstein has applied this same device to The Crossroads. Whether it be the over-the-top country-boy accent applied to Zack's friend Davy, the freakish burger cravings of a possessed plumber, or the crazy, dangerous antics of a lady too old to physically hurt a fly, The Crossroads makes for a fun summer read. Oh, and the best part is that the stepmom and a librarian provide the key clues to solving the mystery of this ghost. Who says stepmoms are evil and librarians are boring?

For additional reviews, please visit my site.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lynne C. Fraser on June 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Chris has written an excellent adult series, a fabulous series for those older kids and young adults and now he has followed up with this new story that is perfect for the younger readers out there. The story is fast moving and exciting and guaranteed to catch the attention of even those kids who do not like to read. Great book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By WovenAndSpun on October 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
Author Chris Grabenstein weaves a hauntingly wonderful story in his 2008 book, The Crossroads (Haunted Places (Quality)). Zack is eleven years old. His mom, who blamed him for everything that went wrong with her life, has died of cancer. He is haunted by the horrible words she spoke to him on a daily basis. When Zacks dad remarries and the new family moves from New York City to Connecticut, Zack soon makes a new friend and in the process, a ghost story 50 years in the making unfolds with Zack at the centerpiece.

This is a great book for readers who enjoy suspense, action and most importantly, ghosts. The short chapters might be good for a reader who is intimidated by long chapters. It makes getting through the book less daunting of a task. I love the theme of family that runs through the book. Zack had a horrible mother and has now been blessed with a wonderful, loving stepmother. The storyline between the two of them is very heartwarming. There is also a strong theme of redemption that runs throughout the story. Zack has never been an overly confident child, but finds out that he is very important, and was chosen to set free the souls of the trapped victims of a tragic bus accident.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By LBIBeachgrl on July 25, 2009
Format: Paperback
After watching my 12 year old daughter's face light up and listening to her exclamations at the end of each chapter, I thought I would see what she was so excited about. I really enjoyed this ghost story. I could not put the book down. It was a great read and was full of suspense. My daughter already requested the sequel. I hope it turns out to be a long series, as I have not seen my daughter so interested in reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sheila L. Beaumont VINE VOICE on September 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this thrilling ghost story for middle-graders, 11-year-old Zack Jennings, who has quite an active imagination, is moving from New York to North Chester, Connecticut, with his dad and his decidedly unwicked new stepmother, Judy, who writes the "Curiosity Cat" children's books. When they arrive, Zack finds, to his surprise, that he also has a new dog, a Jack Russell terrier named Zipper.

The titular crossroads is an intersection where a fatal bus crash occurred 50 years earlier, on June 21, 1958. The accident has resulted in an abundance of local ghost legends. At the crossroads is a gigantic oak tree, on the Jennings' property, that's haunted by a malevolent ghost. An unpleasant woman named Gerda Spratling brings fresh roses there every Monday to adorn a roadside memorial to her long-dead fiance, Clint Eberhart.

The book begins with many seemingly separate story lines that are all eventually linked together. There are lots of interesting characters, alive and dead, good and evil, likable and unlikable. Among the likable ones are a boy named Davy, who becomes Zack's first local friend, and the helpful librarian, Mrs. Emerson.

There are quite a number of deaths in this story, and it may possibly be too dark for some young readers, but kids who go in for scary stories will love it. And the darkness is lightened by plenty of humor. I certainly enjoyed this book, and I expect many other grown-ups will too.
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