Thursday, April 16, 2009

Skeleton Creek by Patrick Garman



Skeleton Creek was one of my kids' purchases at the recent Book Fair. My knowledge of the premise ensured me that both my son and daughter would buy into it, hook, line and sinker. Written and produced with the Internet generation in mind, this "package" is part book, disguised as a journal, and part online videos, accessed by secret passwords. I was very much intrigued by this innovation. If you have a child in your house that is glued to electronics, this just might be the way to entice them to read a book!

Something very sinister is going on in the small, Oregon town of Skeleton Creek. Teenagers and best friends Ryan and Sarah start out investigating the origins of the town's name as a lark, but soon unearth disturbing stories and clues that all point towards an old, decrepit structure in the woods called a dredge. Years ago, the dredge was actively used to excavate the earth and recover gold. It is full of rusty gears, rickety rotten steps, shadowy figures and ominous noises. When Ryan and Sarah pay a late-night visit to the dredge, Ryan is injured (was it an accident or was he pushed?), breaking his leg. This little adventure lands Ryan in bed for weeks with a full leg cast, and the parents of both teens barring all interaction between the two...OR ELSE.

It is at this point that we start reading Ryan's journal (the book). As teenagers will, they secretly e-mail each other, disabling the spyware installed on their computers by their parents. They pick up each other's messages early morning and late at night, erasing their tracks as they go. They continue to investigate the evil lurking in Skeleton Creek, Ryan doing Internet research, and Sarah poking around and filming oddities with her camera, which is regularly sent to Ryan's computer. Everybody's a suspect...Ryan's dad, the seasonal park ranger, even Gladys the shotgun-toting librarian.

I have to give credit to the author for his creativity. The story is deliciously creepy for the younger crowd. The journal looks authentic, with hand-written entries, and the appearance of various documents taped into the book. It reads quickly and easily. The videos, which we are regularly prompted to watch online, are sometimes Blair Witch-like. From an adults' point of view (which, really, doesn't matter that much does it?), it can get a little Scooby-Doo hokey, although the ending passed the test. It certainly sets it all up for the sequel, which is due out in October. There is also the issue of non-stop sneaking around and deceiving those annoying, meddling parents. Let's just call a spade a spade, and admit that this is what teenagers do, but do we really want to promote it? Eluding the parents isn't just a suggestion in this book, it is a pivotal theme! I believe I have done what I can to instill honesty in my kids, and hope that a book wouldn't pull them off track. Still, I thought it bears mentioning.

All that being said, my kids went absolute NUTS over this book. They couldn't wait to watch the videos...they kept asking "how many pages until another video?". When they were watching the last video, which ends the story, they were shrieking and covering their eyes, then threw their hands up in the air in outrage because they have to wait until October to see what happens next. Now, at this stage, I would normally have one of them add their thoughts, but they've checked out on me for the night, and are gearing up for Survivor, and I'm not going to force the issue. What's next on the Nawrot menu, you ask? While we are in the mixed media groove, we will be picking up the 39 Clues Series next. I'm starting to have Nancy Drew flashbacks...

13 comments:

farmlanebooks said...

It's great when kids get really into something!

Patrick Garman is clearly a very clever man; integrating books and video is a freat idea - I'd buy a copy if I knew any older children!

Melody said...

sounds fun to me!

I find the whole idea of this book to be very innovative!

Beth F said...

Great review. I've been wanting to read this myself. I think the whole idea seems fun. I get spooked tho, so that's what's held me back. If it's Scooby-Do scary, I can handle it.

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

I've heard about the interactive books like these, and while I've never looked at them, I'm all for things that get kids reading!

Anna said...

Sounds like an interesting book. I think it's neat that he combined the book and the videos. My daughter mentioned the 39 Clues books to me today, and I had no idea what she was talking about.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Sandy Nawrot said...

Jackie - It isn't hard to get my daugher to read, but my son was a different case. I think I may have him hooked though!

Melody - In situations like this, I always ask myself "why didn't I think of that?" The whole thing makes alot of sense, doesn't it?

Beth - Most of it is Scooby Doo-ish, but there ARE a couple of videos that are pretty scary. I guess because the premise is that there is a ghost in the dredge (and not a serial murderer) makes it less believable for me.

Melissa - I agree with you. Reading is a gift, and whatever works is fine with me!

Anna - Yes, we are doing the 39 clues next. There are three books in that series so far. I don't know much about the plot, but will fill you in soon, if we can get one started!

ds said...

I think I have a nephew (or two) who might enjoy this, both of whom read--one reluctantly--and both of whom are glued to their igames. What age(s) (i.e., how young) do you think this is appropriate for? It's a great review.

Sandy Nawrot said...

ds - Well, my kids are 9 and 11, if that is any indication. If they are any younger than 9, they may get spooked. I'd say the book could hold the interest of up to a mid-teenager, as that is the age of the characters in the story. Let me know how it goes if they read it!

Serena said...

Thanks for stopping by the blogs and cheering us readers on...I'm stopping by and will catch up on your blog later in the weekend.

DeSeRt RoSe said...

Hi sandy :) great review!

I just wanted to let your know that you have an award waiting please pick it up here :)

http://desertrosebooklogue.blogspot.com/2009/04/super-comments-award-you-dont-say.html

Anna said...

Sandy, sorry your daughter was upset with you about the Read-a-Thon. I'm sure you will have a great time with her when the next one happens. The Read-a-Thon site says they'll be every April and October. Thanks for stopping by my blog and cheering us on.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Serena said...

Sandy: The next read-a-thon will be in October. I think it will be great if you and your daughter participate.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Anna and Serena - Barring an earthshattering, unavoidable event, Emma and I will do our best to take part in the read-a-thon next time! It just kind of snuck up on me...I hadn't even heard of it until now...and my weekends are too insanely crazy to change directions on such quick notice. It looked like so much fun!