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Showing 1-10 of 15 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 41 reviews
on June 15, 2013
Some of my students wanted to read a scary book, so we picked this one out and I read it with them. Unfortunately, it is not a book that I can recommend.

I enjoyed the basic plot. The book begins rather ominously, with a tree capable of murder. This is a scary idea that does not continue to play out. The plot becomes very convoluted, involving generations of the townspeople, all inter-related in ways that are difficult to understand. It comes together, sort of, but it does not read like a mystery as the dots are connected, it reads more like a mess. The ominous beginning involves the emotional abuse of a child, and this is another problem I had with the book. If this were used in a way that kids could relate to, and was provided appropriate resolution, it would be a positive. As it is, too many questions are left unanswered, particularly the role the father had to play, largely because characters (there was potential there) become unbelievable caricatures. The scary beginning ends up playing out in some preposterous ways, and at the end, unravels and resolves in much the same way a Scooby Doo episode would with a wild goose chase (if the ghosts in Scooby Doo were real). I appreciated the short chapters which made it easier for my students to read. The pacing was well done. But in the end, there was little in this book that they, or I, could relate to. The book lost us all. A decent beginning that fractured into trite, ridiculous nonsense.
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on September 19, 2008
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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on January 12, 2010
If you know a young reader who's been interested in exploring ghost stories and tales with a spooky bite, I've got the perfect book for you. Chris Grabenstein's The Crossroads is an excellent entry vehicle for these young readers, especially reluctant ones who get bored reading.

There's nothing boring about this book. It starts off with a bang and keeps the hits coming as the young hero and his stepmom untangle all the intricacies of the supernatural mystery that lies at the heart of this book. There are some deaths that occur during the unveiling of the tale, and some genuinely creepy twists and turns, so this isn't an entirely bloodless read.

The eleven year old hero, Zack, is a great kid that young readers and the parents of young readers will enjoy. He's a fun, shy kid with hang-ups that a lot of young readers will empathize with. The bits and pieces when he hears his dead mother talking to him sarcastically hurt and will win over readers.

The most surprising character in the book is Judy, Zack's stepmom. Usually the adults in a juvenile novel take backstage to the action, but Judy stays right at the heart of it and often tripped across reveals all on her own. In fact, Grabenstein uses Judy to build up all the suspense and tension that surrounds Zack.

Other characters step on stage as well, including Gerda Spratling, the weird old widow that maintains a grave marker at the crossroads where her fiancé was killed. She evokes sympathy at first, but Grabenstein twists and warps her to expose the darkness within.

The story's pacing is excellent. Short, bite-sized chapters create a momentum from page one that sweeps the reader through the narrative. This would be a perfect read-aloud book for teachers to share in the classroom, or to read to your kids at night. I'm planning to take this one to read to my twelve year old the next time we go camping because it's a perfect ghost story for out in the wilds.

Grabenstein has written a sequel detailing more adventures for Zack and Judy. I can't wait to pick up The Hanging Hill and see what happens next.
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on October 15, 2012
If you like ghosts,kids, and books that keep you turning the page, this one is for you. I read this to my sixth grade class and they begged for more each day. Lots of twists and turns and a ton of ghostly characters.
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on October 24, 2013
Chris Grabenstein is a superb writer! I don't know many writers who can write in multiple points of view and pull it off, but he does a masterful job in The Crossroads doing just that. I found this book to be one of the best middle grade books I've ever read. I thought it should have won a Newberry. The book held my undivided attention from start to finish. I had to buy my own copy so I could read it again and again. Chris Grabenstein really knows how to write books that grab readers. I'm a huge fan!
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on December 16, 2009
I love Grabenstein's adult series and this book is just as good. Kids and adults will love it. Great characters, fast pace, great story telling. Another winner Chris!
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on January 24, 2014
Another thriller.

The author makes you want to read to see what is coming next. A good book for the younger set.

You can visualize what the author is describing
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on October 7, 2010
Chris is able to weave a story that pulls us in, like being caught in the spider's web, and wraps itself about us, never really letting us go, even after we have read the last page.
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on July 5, 2016
I could not put the book down. Going to read the next book. Hope it is as great as this one.
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on August 14, 2014
Gift for my tween grandson. He likes this author. Not sure he's read it yet. Quick delivery.
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