Monday, October 24, 2016
MMGM: Took by Mary Downing Hahn
ABOUT THE BOOK
“Folks say Old Auntie takes a girl and keeps her fifty years—then lets her go and takes another one.” Thirteen-year-old Daniel Anderson doesn’t believe Brody Mason’s crazy stories about the ghost witch who lives up on Brewster’s Hill with Bloody Bones, her man-eating razorback hog. He figures Brody’s probably just trying to scare him since he’s the new kid . . . a “stuck-up snot” from Connecticut. But Daniel’s seven-year-old sister Erica has become more and more withdrawn, talking to her lookalike doll. When she disappears into the woods one day, he knows something is terribly wrong. Did the witch strike? Has Erica been “took”?
Mary Downing Hahn has become one of my go to authors for middle grade scary books. I've found her books fit into the solidly middle ground in terms of scariness. Took is another example of such a book. In this book we have an eleven-year-old boy whose family has just moved from a city in Connecticut to a very small town in West Virginia. The old farmhouse they move into doesn't really fit into Daniel's idea of where he would like to live, nor his sister's either. But after his father lost his job, downgrading was a must. What Daniel doesn't know is that his family has had a spell put upon them leading them to this house. And things go downhill immediately. Neither Daniel nor his sister, Erica, are welcomed at school, in fact they are bullied from the first minute. The kids' parents are unhappy and the conditions at home sink lower and lower. As Daniel watches his sister especially sink into despair and obsession with her doll, he wonders if the stories he's been hearing about a young girl disappearing 50 years ago are related. But he's reluctant to believe these stories until his sister runs off after they have a fight, and doesn't return. Can Daniel find a way to get his sister back or while she remain 'took' like the strange young girl he finds in the woods?
Hahn does a great job of leading gradually to the climax where the story explodes with tension. As the tension with Daniel's family builds, the reader has a pretty good idea of where things are headed, but of course can't do anything to stop it. The obsession Erica has her with look-a-like doll becomes especially creepy as the story develops. The question becomes, how is Daniel going to save his sister and his family from 'Old Auntie' and her pet 'Bloody Bones'. Like all scary books though, the appropriateness of this book will depend on the reader and what he/she is ready to handle.