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By B. A. Frade
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- Trade Paperback $5.99 $7.99 CAD
- ebook $5.99 $7.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around October 17, 2017. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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It’s the night that all the sixth-graders at Hamilton Middle School have been waiting for: the annual overnight field trip to the local science museum and planetarium. Best friends Nate and Connor come bearing treats and, unknowingly, tricks in the form of a spooky old book called Tales from the Scaremaster.
When Nate and Connor crack open the candy to share with their friends, they also crack open the book, and are shocked to find that it writes back. Pretty soon, creepy things start happening at the museum–ghostly sightings, possessed dioramas that the kids swear are moving, and scary noises and movements at every turn. Weirder still, it seems that the mysterious book might be pulling the strings. Can Nate, Connor, Emily, and Bella uncover the mysteries of the book and the haunted museum–or will they end up its latest victims?
Don’t make the same mistake Nate and Connor made.
Don’t read my book.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
“Just five minutes,” I said as I checked my wristwatch. I know, no one wears a regular old watch anymore, but I like the way it ticks. “Come on, Mom, please. I want to look at a new book on Ursus arctos.”
“Oh, I know that one!” My best friend, Connor Fletcher, was in the backseat of the car. He leaned as far forward as the seat belt would allow and said, “It’s a kind of bird, right?”
“Yes,” I told Connor, excited. “A massive black bird that has sharp teeth and can fly backward.”
“Wow, that sounds scary—” Connor started, then stopped himself. There was a long pause, and then he said, “You’re joking, aren’t you? There’s no bird that flies backward.”
“Gotcha!” I laughed. “You’re so easy to trick.”
“I know.” Connor sighed heavily. “My brothers tell me that every day.”
I was an only child, but Connor’s family was big. He was the youngest of four brothers. They all had the same dark skin, curly hair, and gray eyes. For a long time, his brothers had him convinced that his parents found him in the grocery store parking lot, until I stepped in and explained to him how genetics work. He looked too much like the rest of the Fletchers for the parking lot story to be true.
My wavy red hair was also a genetic trait. My dad was a regular brown-haired science geek. My mom was the redhead. I got the geek from Dad and the hair from Mom. Although Mom was a pretty big geek too. Nerdy genes ran strong in my family. And I liked that.
“Ursus arctos is the scientific name for a brown bear,” I confessed.
Then I asked Mom again, “Please?” I tapped the face of my watch. “We don’t have to meet our teacher for a whole half an hour. Can we go to the gift shop?” I added another begging “Pretty please?”
My mom was a librarian. It was hard for her to turn down buying a book. I had known that when I asked.
“Uh…” I could tell she was thinking about it as she pulled into a parking spot in front of the Natural History Museum.
“We should get some candy to share with everyone at the sleepover,” Connor suggested. “Maybe some gummy dinosaurs? We can identify each one before we eat them.”
“Oh, all right.” Mom gave in. “A bear book and some dinosaur candy. That’s it.”
I turned my head to wink at Connor. We were a good team. Educational gummy candy—that was a mastermind idea. How could she say no to that?
Mom handed me twenty dollars and said, “I’ll bring in the duffel bags. Meet me by the ticket booth.” She turned off the car engine. “Don’t be late. Mr. Steinberg was very clear about the time.”
Mr. Steinberg was our seventh-grade science teacher and the best teacher I’d ever had because he knew everything, kind of like a human Wikipedia. I wanted to be like him when I got older. Plus, he was also the one who had arranged tonight’s sleepover in the museum for my entire class.
“We’ll be there,” I promised, taking one last look at my watch.
“Hurry,” I told Connor, tugging his arm as he got out of the car. “Every second counts!” We took off running.
Two minutes later, we were inside the Natural History Museum gift shop.
I’d been to a lot of museum stores, but this one was extra awesome. The shelves were packed with all the kinds of stuff I liked. Crystals, geodes, puzzles, build-your-own-dinosaur kits, boxes of fake bugs, dead butterfly dioramas, and books. Lots and lots of books.
If only we had more time. If only we could sleep in the gift shop instead of the museum!
I bolted straight to the bookshelf and found the book I wanted to buy. I’d seen it online when I’d looked up the museum and the exhibits. I knew exactly what the cover looked like.
I’d been to the museum several times before but always with my parents. This time it was going to be different. Mr. Steinberg was going to let us wander around, so I’d also printed a map of the museum and studied the guides to the most popular exhibits. I was 100 percent ready for the sleepover!
The heavy book had a big grizzly bear on the cover. Inside, there were “a thousand facts” about bears. That was more than any other book I’d ever read, but I had to make sure there was information in here I didn’t already know.
Squatting on the floor, I flipped through the pages. On page 12, I found one thing I didn’t know about bears. I’d already learned that it’s sometimes hard to tell a black bear from a grizzly bear because both are brown. But this book said that grizzly bears have a shoulder hump. There was a picture of the raised part. There was also a picture comparing bear tracks.
This was definitely the book for me.
“Connor?” I called out. We’d separated at the entrance of the shop. He headed to the candy aisle, while I ran the other way.
“Over here,” Connor replied. “You aren’t going to believe what they have.”
I hurried around a display of T-shirts and tote bags. I wanted to stop to look at the shirts, but Connor was waiting and I’d promised Mom. One book and candy. Nothing else.
“Check it out,” Connor said, holding up a lollipop with a dead scorpion inside. “You’re supposed to eat the bug.”
“Gross.” I stuck out my tongue. “Yuck.”
“My brothers would love these,” Connor said. “Of course, they’d force me to eat all their bugs.” He quickly put the suckers back on the shelf. “So, no thanks.”
“Did you find gummy candy?” I asked, looking over the shelves of chocolate “dinosaur eggs” and licorice ropes that came with knot-tying instructions.
“Got them.” Connor held up a big bag. The front said there were five types of dinosaurs inside.
“The brachiosaurus looks especially delicious,” I said, taking the bag. In my head, I added up the prices and realized there was going to be some change left over. “We can get those licorice ropes too,” I told Connor. “I want to make knots.”
“Candy that comes with a book of instructions,” Connor teased. “It’s like it was made just for you.”
We carried the candy to the counter, where an odd-looking woman stood at the cash register. There was no line. In fact, we were the only two customers in the store. And the woman didn’t rush to begin ringing us up. She didn’t seem to be doing anything except standing there, staring at us.
She was tall and thin and had long black hair, pale skin, and a narrow nose. But that wasn’t what made her odd. It was her eyes. When she first looked up, I’d have sworn they were green, but a few seconds later, they seemed to be purple. I glanced away, and when I looked back, she was still staring at me, but now her eyes were brown. Every few seconds, they seemed to change color.
I elbowed Connor to see if he was noticing the same thing, but Connor was busy reading the little book that came with the licorice ropes. He hadn’t looked up at the woman at all.
“Did you know the strongest knot is called a Palomar?” Connor said, pointing at an illustration.
“Those are best for fishing,” I replied automatically, keeping my eyes pinned on the woman. Why hadn’t she started ringing us up yet? “A figure eight is best for climbing.”
“Show-off.” Connor shut the book and set it on the counter. “We better pay and get going.”
“That’s what I’m trying to do—” I whispered, again looking at the woman, whose eyes were now yellow. “Um, excuse me,” I said loudly and in my most polite voice. “We need to check out.”
“Oh,” the woman said, as if noticing us standing there for the first time. “I see.…” She reached out for our purchases but stopped. “Do I know you?” she asked Connor. “Your face is familiar.” She gasped, as if realizing where she’d seen him before. “Were you on the sleepover the night the boy—” Her voice softened, and in a whisper, she finished, “Disappeared?”
“Uh, I’ve never been here before,” Connor told her. He looked scared. “But my brother Chris told me about the kid who disappeared.”
“Such a sad story,” the woman said, gathering up the items on the counter and scanning them at the register. “A real tragedy.”
“I thought Chris was kidding,” Connor told her. “It can’t be true.”
“It’s true,” she said flatly. A moment later, she spoke again. “We’re out of bags. Wait here. I’ll be right back.” She walked toward the storage room at the rear of the store.
The instant the woman was gone, I turned to Connor. “What story? What kid?”
“Chris was messing with me at dinner last night,” Connor replied. Chris was the oldest. Then came Charles and Cameron. Connor was last. Their parents had a weird love for the letter C.
Connor went on. “Chris said that he knew someone who knew someone who knew the best friend of the sister of a kid our age who vanished from here during a sleepover.”
“Vanished?” I repeated, wrinkling my eyebrows. “Like someone was kidnapped from the museum?”
“No. Not a kidnapping,” Connor said in a nervous-sounding voice. “Cameron said that the exhibits in the museum are creepy and that the dead stuffed animals in the displays come to life at night. The animal spirits snagged this kid from his field trip. He was never seen again.” Connor shivered, but not from the cold. “You know, there are predators like grizzly bears and T. rexes and lions in the exhibits, so maybe they ate the kid for dinner. No one knows what happened. But he was gone in the morning and never seen again. They didn’t even find his body.”
“Hmm,” I said, considering the story but not buying it.
Connor also clearly did not want to believe the story, but I could tell that he wasn’t sure anymore. He shook his head. “I told Chris it was bogus and that I wasn’t falling for it. I was sure he was lying to try to scare me.” His eyes widened, and he said, “But then a woman who works here says it’s all true. What am I supposed to believe?”
Connor did not like scary stories. He hated scary movies. And he refused to read scary books. It would have been really easy for Chris and the other brothers to convince him not to come on the sleepover. One frightening tale about a missing kid, and Connor would have happily stayed home, safe in his bedroom.
“I’m sure it’s one of those urban legends,” I told Connor, putting a hand on his shoulder. “Your brothers are always goofing around.”
“That’s what I thought too, until now.” He pointed at the cashier, who was coming back our way with a box of store bags in one hand and a leather book in the other.
“What if it’s true?” Connor asked, his voice rising. “I can’t spend the night in a haunted museum. I just can’t.”
“It’s not true,” I assured him. “Displays only come to life in the movies. And if there was a kid who disappeared in the museum, don’t you think the school would cancel all field trips and sleepovers?” Like a lawyer, I added, “It would be a liability.” I wasn’t sure what that meant, but it sounded convincing.
“I guess, you’re right,” Connor agreed, though he didn’t seem entirely convinced. “It’s just a prank, right?” Before I could answer, he added, “But then again, how’s it possible that the woman who runs the gift shop is in on my brothers’ hoax?”
- On Sale
- Oct 17, 2017
- Page Count
- 160 pages
- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers