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A mix of 32 timeless chillers and personal encounters with the supernatural gathered from Native American storytellers and traditions.

Carefully acknowledging his oral, online, and print sources (and appending lists of additional ones), Jones (Ponca) intersperses his own anecdotes and retellings with accounts by others collected in his travels. The generally brief entries are gathered into types, from brushes with ghosts or spirits (the latter distinguished by having “more complex agendas” than the former) to witches and monsters. In them, the tone ranges from mild eeriness—hearing an elder relative on the porch just moments after she died and seeing small footprints appear in wet concrete near the burial ground of an abandoned Oklahoma boarding school—to terrifying glimpses of were-owls, were-otters, a malign walking doll, and a giant water serpent with a “sinister smile.” They all join the more familiar (in children’s books, anyway) likes of Bigfoot and La Llorona. Linked to a broad diversity of traditions spanning the North American continent, the stories, both old—there’s one ascribed to the ancient Mississippian culture—and those given recent, even modern settings, are related in matter-of-fact language that underscores a common sense of how close the natural and supernatural worlds are. In sometimes-intricate ink drawings, Alvitre (Tongva) amps the creepiness by alternating depictions of everyday items with grinning skulls, heaps of bones, and the odd floating head.

Valuable both for its broad range and shivery appeal. (introductory notes) (Traditional literature. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-68160-4

Page Count: 176

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Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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