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The Hanging Hill: A Haunted Mystery Hardcover – Bargain Price, August 11, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4–7—The Hanging Hill Playhouse has a long, dark history as Zack soon discovers. The 11-year-old, who has the ability to see ghosts; his stepmother, Judy; and his dog arrive at the theater for rehearsals of Curiosity Cat, the musical Judy has written. They are unaware of anything sinister until a series of mysterious ghosts appears and strange things begin to happen. Zack and Meghan, a young actress, nose about while the "psycho" director loses himself in necromancy. An endearing element in the novel is the warm relationship between Zack and his stepmother. The plot is fast paced and there are numerous characters, especially toward the end, with frequent scene switches that demand a lot of readers' ability to visualize the goings-on. All in all, this successor to The Crossroads (Random, 2008) is a successful stand-alone. The story line is hauntingly delicious as the fully fleshed-out creepiness comes tempered with humor. It's a throwback to the kids' matinees of yore.—Robyn Gioia, Bolles School, Ponte Vedra, FL
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About the Author

Chris Grabenstein is the Anthony Award–winning author of Tilt a Whirl, Mad Mouse, and Whack a Mole. He used to write TV and radio commercials and has written for the Muppets. Currently, Chris and his wife live in New York City with three cats and a dog named Fred. You can visit him (and Fred) at www.chrisgrabenstein.com.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 640L (What's this?)
  • Series: A Haunted Mystery (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (August 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375846999
  • ASIN: B005K69QOK
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,464,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chris Grabenstein is the author of the New York Times Bestseller and 2014 ALSC Notable Book Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library, recently optioned by Nickelodeon to become a movie. Chis is also the co-author with James Patterson of the #1 Bestsellers I Funny, I Even Funnier, and Treasure Hunters. He is the critically acclaimed author of over twenty other books, a playwright, screenwriter, and former advertising executive and improvisational comedian. Winner of two Anthony and four Agatha Awards, Chris wrote for Jim Henson's Muppets and co-wrote the CBS-TV movie The Christmas Gift starring John Denver. www.ChrisGrabenstein.com

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl A. Reynolds VINE VOICE on June 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
#2 in the YA paranormal mystery series featuring Zack Jennings and his family. Eleven-year-old Zack and his stepmother Judy are off to Chatham, CT where Judy's book Curiosity Cat is being produced as a play by the rather famous director Reginald Grimes at the Hanging Hill Theatre. Theatres are notoriously full of ghosts as Zack and Judy, who can also see ghosts, find out quickly, much to their dismay. Some ghosts are benevolent, others seem neutral and still others downright evil. Zack is excited to learn that one of his favorite actresses, Meghan McKenna, will be playing the girl's role in the play and when they meet they get along famously--and Zack learns that Meghan can also see ghosts. Her co-star, Derek Stone, can't--and he's also got an annoying Hollywood mom and is allergic to Zack's beloved dog, Zipper. Strange things begin happening almost from the moment of their arrival and soon Zack and Meghan are off exploring and uncover a deadly plot which many of the theatre's ghosts are involved in, too.

This was a wonderful book, plenty of scary moments and lots of great fun throughout, whether you're eleven years old or eleven plus forty! Highly recommended, and though it stands well on its own, I think it's best enjoyed if you read The Crossroads, the first book featuring Zack and Judy, first.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Pop Bop TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover
While this is the second creepy/ghosty story to feature Zach and his step-mom, it works fine as a stand-alone, although reading it will probably send you looking for its prequel, "The Crossroads", and its two, (as of now), sequels.

"Hanging Hill" has a solid hero, good secondary characters, creepy but not terribly violent action, and a decent plot. I would expect it to be very appealing to a middle grade reader, and to lead to a certain sense of accomplishment when finished. Certainly a solid, scary choice.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By KidsReads on November 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Twelve-year-old Zack, who first appeared in the spooky suspense novel THE CROSSROADS, is back and hoping to have some time away from ghosts. Zack's house burned down at the end of his last adventure, and he thinks that means he's now away from all the spirits that haunted the abode. But he soon realizes how wrong he is when he meets the spirit of notorious criminal Mad Dog Murphy while eating his breakfast at the local hotel.

Luckily, he and his stepmother, Judy, are scheduled to oversee the play of one of her books at an old small town theater, the Hanging Hill Playhouse. But he's still hearing and seeing strange things at that historic location in Chatham, Connecticut. Just who is that ghostly young woman juggling on the stairs?

Misery loves company, and Zack is thrilled to learn that someone else sees the ghosts: the famous child actress Meghan McKenna, who is starring in the new play. Together, the two explore the old theater, seeing ghosts in hallways, stairways and in the basement. A lot of scary activity is taking place --- and not all of it is from ghosts. Humans can be just as menacing (Grimes, the director, is particularly fierce).

Little by little, Zack and Meghan begin to figure out what is going on and why the director of the play is so strange. But many seek to stop them --- and some want to sacrifice them. Adding to Zack's dilemma is the discovery of the spirit of a deceased family member. It's hard enough dealing with ghosts of people he doesn't know, so facing one he does seems downright impossible. And after Zack sees Mad Dog Murphy again, this time at Hanging Hill, he begins to seriously wonder what is going on. The spirits are definitely gathering, and Zack knows he and Meghan need to stop whatever it is they're up to.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sheila L. Beaumont VINE VOICE on March 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This scary, funny sequel to "The Crossroads" is even better than the first book! Young Zack, accompanied by his stepmother, Judy, and his Jack Russell terrier, Zipper, travels to the Hanging Hill Playhouse, where a play based on Judy's "Curiosity Cat" children's books is scheduled to be performed by the Pandemonium Players. Unfortunately, the director, who obviously has a screw loose, has other plans, which involve using an ancient Carthaginian ritual that will feed children to Moloch and summon demonic spirits from hell that he believes will bring him untold riches and make him ruler of the world.

"The Hanging Hill" is a marvelous mixture of the supernatural, thrills and chills, suspense, twists, humor, and terrific characters, some of whom are creepy, while others are delightful, including the famous child actress Meghan, her mother, and a helpful local librarian who helps Zack and Meghan research the origin of the word "pandemonium" and find out why the theater's acting company is called the Pandemonium Players. This book is great fun for both kids and adults, and I can hardly wait for the next installment!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John on August 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Chris Grabenstein's sequel to the award-winning THE CROSSROADS is every bit as good and even more SCARY, as Zack, his dog, his stepmom and several new friends battle ghosts and demons in a haunted theater on Hanging Hill. Although THE CROSSROADS and THE HANGING HILL deal with ghosts, the supernatural, and scary things that go bump in the night, don't be afraid to let your children read this book. Three generations in our family loved THE CROSSROADS and are now thrilling to HANGING HILL. Since I was the first to discover Grabenstein (I love his John Ceepak/Danny Boyle adult mysteries!), I get to read his new books first. As soon as I finished H.HILL I passed it along to my adult daughter, who's reading it before handing it down to her oldest two boys (8 and 11).

Grabenstein brings to his children's books the same mix of mystery, suspense, and humor that makes his Ceepak/Boyle mysteries so good. CROSSROADS and HANGING HILL are spiced with twists and subplots that you might not expect in children's books, which is probably why they appeal to adults and kids alike. I'm now impatiently waiting for the next story!
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