A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this book provides links and passwords to Web sites, which provide additional plot. Online, kids will see suspenseful, creepy videos that might be scary to younger or more sensitive readers/viewers, though nothing worse than a skeletal ghost is shown. This is mostly a fun, scary mystery, but there is a message here about being brave enough to seek the truth: Two curious teen friends know there is a mystery in Skeleton Creek, and they're determined to find out what it is -- even if Ryan's father may be involved.
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- Kids say
What's the story?
Ryan is housebound after he's seriously injured in a fall in an old dredge out in the woods that no one in town wants to talk about. He's also forbidden to have anything to do with his best friend, Sarah. But both have found and disabled their parents' monitoring software and are communicating by email, as Sarah continues their dangerous investigation and sends Ryan links to the videos she makes documenting her research into the horrific death of a worker on the dredge years ago, what may be his ghost, and the cause of Ryan's accident, and Ryan's father's possible involvement.
Is it any good?
Neither the writing nor the videos are of the highest quality (actually both are very much like something teenagers would make), but together they make a compelling package. The gimmick, if you will, of this book is that it tells only part of the story: the rest is told in a series of online videos, for which readers are given links and passwords at strategic places throughout the story, including the cliffhanger ending. The book is Ryan's journal, and the videos are the ones Sarah makes for Ryan, a mix of Blair Witch Project style frights in the woods and video journals. Together they tell the story, and neither is complete without the other.
Books and movies have had a symbiotic relationship for as long as there have been movies, so it's amazing that no one has done anything quite like this before now. Switching back and forth between the two media is fun, and reluctant readers may be enticed by the gimmick, as well as by the slim, easy-to-read text. A successful launch of what is sure to be a vibrant new genre: the book/video hybrid.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about this book/video hybrid. What do you think of the way they work together? Is this the beginning of a new form of media? Or just a gimmick? Would it have worked better if the whole thing was a book, or a movie? Or does the interaction between the two add interest?
The videos try to create a creepy mood, even without showing gore or anything really menacing. Are they effective? Can you figure out which elements in the videos have the most impact? Why do we like to play around with this kind of scary stuff?
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