Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Ghosts of Stone Hollow by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

The Ghosts of Stone HollowMy name is Amy, and I'm slowly learning why people around here are so frightened of Stone Hollow. Jason, the new boy in school, says he's been up there several times, but I'm afraid to be seen with him. He's really strange, and my classmates would tease and bully me if I'm seen near him. I've learned from my parents that a family died in Spring Hollow, and bootleggers died on the property years later. My aunt thinks people who believe in ghosts are heathens and small-minded, and my mom thinks bad things will happen to me in the woods. Not ghost things; she's sure I'll die of an animal attack or a disease. My dad may be confined to a wheelchair, but he remembers what it's like to be a kid. However, I don't know if he'll understand that I've decided to sneak up to Stone Hollow with Jason.

This book was about ghosts, but it broached many other topics too. The setting was in a rural, wooded area and took place in 1939, late in the Depression Era. The aunt and mother were god-fearing women, and people with different beliefs were heathens. This included an author and Amy's father, a Catholic. Jason pointed out to Amy that she'd been taught so many things to fear, that in effect, she'd been taught what to believe. A lesson might be to remain open to new ideas but think for yourself. Also, you can tell from my summary that bullying and peer pressure were central factors. Amy went to extreme lengths to avoid being associated with Jason, a stranger to the class with an unusual background and beliefs. She displayed a natural curiosity that the town culture discouraged. Again, learn to think for yourself. This was a safe ghost story. There wasn't any intense drama or suspense that might disturb younger readers. There were spirits, but there weren't any spectral ghosts wandering around. Overall, I liked the book, but some readers may be looking for more.

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