SCRITCH SCRATCH, by Lindsay Currie, Sourcebooks Young Readers, Sept. 1, 2020, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 10 and up)
If you’re looking for a spooky tale that focuses on friendships, then Lindsay Currie’s Scritch Scratch might fit the bill.
Claire has absolutely no interest in the paranormal. She’s a scientist, which is why she can’t think of anything worse than having to help out her dad on one of his ghost-themed Chicago bus tours. She thinks she’s made it through when she sees a boy with a sad face and dark eyes at the back of the bus. There’s something off about his presence, especially because when she checks at the end of the tour…he’s gone.
Claire tries to brush it off, she must be imagining things, letting her dad’s ghost stories get the best of her. But then the scratching starts. Voices whisper to her in the dark. The number 396 appears everywhere she turns. And the boy with the dark eyes starts following her.
Claire is being haunted. The boy from the bus wants something…and Claire needs to find out what before it’s too late. — Synopsis provided by Sourcebooks for Young readers
Scritch Scratch is based on real Chicago history, and it is creepy as can be. Author Lindsay Currie wastes no time setting the scene. Claire’s experience on the bus tour is enough to wig out even the calmest of people, but add in a continued haunting, and it’s downright freaky. The haunting elements had me reaching for a blanket halfway through and made me glad this book is being marketed to older middle-readers (10 and up).
But Scritch Scratch isn’t only about a ghost. Its other main theme focuses on friendship and family. As the stakes rise, and Claire starts pushing people away, they push back. Both Claire’s brother and best friend make it clear they are there for Claire and want to help — even though learning the truth is clearly frightening.
I did have a problem with Claire’s parents; her father in particular. A specific parenting choice he makes, but that we don’t learn about until the end, made me angry. Claire exhibits clear signs of exhaustion and emotional distress. One would hope an “expert” would have played a bigger role. This objection probably won’t even register with younger readers, but as a parent, it spoiled the ending just a bit.
Scritch Scratch is a good choice leading up to the Halloween season.
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