Rowley Jefferson's Awesome Friendly Spooky Stories
By Carrie R. Wheadon,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Mild scares and laughs for Wimpy Kid fans.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
For some kids, this is an introduction to common creatures in horror tales. The short stories here introduce mummies, werewolves, vampires, Frankenstein's monster, zombies, ghosts, the Headless Horseman (as a high schooler), and demons.
A character learns a lesson about going into his parents' medicine cabinet. Another kid learns how a lie can get out of control and how only telling the truth can fix it. A prankster learns that his constant jokes aren't appreciated. People who turn into skeletons learn how boring it is to all look the same.
Positive Role Models
Each story features different characters facing off against supernatural forces or turning into supernatural creatures or skeletons or being fooled into believing bizarre things. Some characters are better off by the end of the story, but most are carried away by the bizarre circumstances they find themselves in. A few times bizarre happenings lead to parents having to tell their kids the truth about who they are.
Violence & Scariness
A grandma is buried alive, but recovered. A man thinks he's dead and jumps from a tower. A kid dies (with no mention of how) and comes back as a ghost to hang out with his BFF. Zombies and aliens invade with both surprisingly good and bad results. People pop out of an airport scanner as skeletons. A mummy goes on a rampage, mostly breaking things. Rowley's friend Greg pretends to be possessed by a demon and messes up Rowley's house. A boy who's just a head befriends someone missing a head. Implied that a school-age Frankenstein got "materials" for his science fair project at the cemetery.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Rowley Jefferson's Awesome Friendly Spooky Stories is the third spin-off story featuring Rowley, the gullibly sweet best friend of Greg, who most kids know from the blockbuster Wimpy Kid series. This time Rowley is simply telling a bunch of ghost stories and not actually in one until the end, when Wimpy Kid Greg tricks Rowley into thinking he, Greg, is possessed by a demon (who does nothing more than messing up Rowley's house and eating a bunch of food). Rowley tells stories about many characters from the horror genre -- from werewolves to the Headless Horseman -- but it never gets that scary. The werewolf is a middle school boy just learning his family's secret and the Headless Horseman is a high schooler who befriends a boy who's just a head. Even when a grandma is buried alive, it turns out fine and rather funny. When a man thinks he's already dead and jumps from a lighthouse, maybe not so much. Zombies and aliens invade with both surprisingly good and bad results, people pop out of an airport scanner as skeletons, a mummy goes on a rampage breaking things, and it's implied that a school-age Frankenstein got "materials" for his science fair project at the cemetery. On the whole there's a lot less potty humor than you'll be used to in the Wimpy Kid world -- only one kid is seen sitting on a toilet. There's also one picture of naked stick figures covering themselves up adequately and a few scenes of a guy in his undies running around. One story includes romance and a kiss, another includes a crush on a girl, and a boy mentions the talk he had with his parents about how babies are made.
Where to Read
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What's the Story?
In ROWLEY JEFFERSON'S AWESOME FRIENDLY SPOOKY STORIES, Wimpy Kid Greg's friend Rowley tries his hand at telling short horror stories. Fourteen tales feature a young werewolf, a prankster who gets pranked, a boy whose friend comes back as a chatty ghost, a girl whose parents think she's a vampire, a boy who's just a head who befriends the headless horseman and together they ask a girl to a school dance, an airport scanner that turns everyone into skeletons, a boy who thinks he lives in the middle ages, a grandma who napped so soundly that her family buried her, a fibbing boy haunted by an ice cream stain, an unpopular mummy taken to court by a popular mummy for copyright infringement, a boy named Frankenstein with a very curious science fair experiment, a boy tempted by his parents' forbidden medicine cabinet, and a town trying to find a way to live amicably with invading zombies. It ends with Rowley telling a story he's sure is the honest truth, about that time his friend Greg got possessed by a demon, messed up his house, and ate all his food.
Is It Any Good?
Scary stories are all in the telling, and when Wimpy Kid Greg's sweet and innocent friend Rowley tells them, expect them to be mild enough for young readers and mildly funny. There are none of the outrageous Wimpy Kid-level antics here, except when a grandma is buried alive (it ends fine!) and the last story of 14, when Greg convinces Rowley that he, Greg, has been possessed by a demon. Because it's Rowley's perspective, Rowley is 100 percent convinced it happened, which makes it uncomfortably funny if you're the sort to wish Rowley had much nicer friends. Poor kid. Hints of friendship woes return in the story "Ghost Friend," where a boy's BFF comes back as a ghost and makes life miserable for him.
By far the oddest story is the one where one mummy sues another for copyright infringement. How would Rowley, our naive narrator, know what this is? The story with the funniest twists and turns is "The Invasion," in which a town handles a zombie invasion in a refreshing way. Overall, kids will have fun with the variety of tales and standard horror characters in Rowley Jefferson's Awesome Friendly Spooky Stories, and tehy may even be inspired to imagine some of their own to tell around the campfire.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about perspective in the last story in Rowley Jefferson's Awesome Friendly Adventure, titled "The Demon." How does Rowley tell the story? How would Wimpy Kid Greg tell it?
Is Greg a good friend to Rowley? What about the ghost in the story "Ghost Friend"? What happens to the boy later in life who always follows along with his friend?
Which of these horror characters -- werewolves, vampires, mummies, zombies, ghosts, etc. -- have you read about or seen before? Where? Which are totally new?
Are you interested in reading more scary stories? How scary do you like your stories? When are they too scary for you?
- Author: Jeff Kinney
- Illustrator: Jeff Kinney
- Genre: Graphic Novel
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Middle School, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Space and Aliens
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
- Publication date: March 16, 2021
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 13
- Number of pages: 224
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: March 31, 2021
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