Gustav Gloom and the People Taker

Common Sense Media says

Humorously spooky tale of making new, weird friends.





What parents need to know

Educational value

Gustav Gloom and the People Taker is a humorously spooky fantasy without much correspondence to everyday reality. Emotional truths about friendship are the educational takeaways.

Positive messages

Promotes the value in stepping outside of your comfort zone and getting to know people who seem different from everyone else.

Positive role models

Neighborhood newcomer Fernie What dares to enter the spookiest house on the street and look for her missing cat. Once inside, she faces a number of threats with great bravery and resourcefulness. She also has empathy for lonely, misunderstood Gustav and comes to see him as a friend.

Violence & scariness

Featuring a villain who kidnaps people and throws them into a seemingly bottomless pit, Gustav Gloom and the People Taker might prove too scary for the youngest readers, but in general, its approach to violence is cartoonish and unthreatening. There's a shadow monster that runs around and creates havoc and a fight with the main villain on the edge of the bottomless pit.

Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Gustav Gloom and the People Taker is a humorously spooky fantasy that promotes the value of seeking out new experiences and friends. There's a creepy villain who threatens to throw children into a bottomless pit, but the level of violence never rises above the cartoonish. No iffy language or references to sex.

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Kids say

What's the story?

Strange and withdrawn Gustav Gloom seems to live alone in a dark and mysterious mansion, so most of his neighbors avoid him. But when Fernie What moves to Sunnyside Terrace, her cat chases its own shadow into the Gloom mansion, and Fernie must explore the forbidding house herself. What she discovers is a place full of living shadows, strange sculptures, and a resident villain who threatens to throw intruders into a bottomless pit. Only by making friends with Gustav and learning to understand his odd view of life is Fernie able to save herself and her family.

Is it any good?


For older readers, GUSTAV GLOOM AND THE PEOPLE TAKER might feel like a warmed-over Tim Burton scenario, but there's enough inventiveness and original humor to appeal to younger ones. Author Adam-Troy Castro sometimes lets the dialogue get a little too cutesy, but in general he uses a breezy style that keeps the action moving. Kristen Margiotta's highly stylized black-and-white illustrations add extra energy to the story.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why people who wear black clothes and are most active at night are sometimes regarded with suspicion. Would you be scared to encounter such a person?

  • Why are haunted house stories so popular? Do you think there really are some houses that are haunted?

  • Which kinds of people are regarded as outsiders? What are good ways to get to know somehow whom others regard as "weird"?

Book details

Author:Adam-Troy Castro
Illustrator:Kristen Margiotta
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Cats, dogs, and mice, Friendship, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Grosset & Dunlap
Publication date:August 16, 2012
Number of pages:232
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Read aloud:8 - 12
Read alone:8 - 12
Available on:Hardback

This review of Gustav Gloom and the People Taker was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 15 years old Written byRunnerlife April 7, 2013

Great even at 15

My mother got me this book because it looked like the topics I read most of the time. By the looks of it I thought it would boring and childish but it wasn't. With great morals and entertaining twists on everyday life and ideas I found myself stuck on it. I couldn't put it down and finished it in 2 days. It is perfect for most ages with simple appropriate language, yet long enough and interesting enough for older readers. I have finished the first one and am ready to move on in the series, passed my copy of it onto my 10 year old cousin and she likes it so far to. Can't wait to find the second and third book.


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