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Scritch Scratch by Lindsay Currie – Book Review

Title: Scritch Scratch

Author: Lindsay Currie

Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers

Release Date: September 1, 2020

RATING: 4 Stars

When Claire’s parents ask her to assist her father on one of his ghost tours of Chicago, she cannot think of anything worse or more humiliating. For starters, Claire is a scientist and absolutely refuses to believe in the supernatural. However, her parents need her help, and Claire begrudgingly agrees. While on the tour, Claire dutifully fills her role as an assistant and almost makes it to the end unscathed. Almost. After seeing an eerie boy at one stop, Claire shrugs off an ominous feeling. But one sighting turns into another encounter, and another, until Claire realizes she’s being haunted. With the help of her brother and friends, Claire must solve the mystery of the eerie boy before it’s too late.

Scritch Scratch is a captivating mix of genres and themes, including spooky ghost story, historical fiction, middle school relationships, and family. The blend of topics creates an effective rhythm bouncing between scary ghost encounters and the novel’s plot. Author Lindsay Currie also succeeds at keeping readers on the edge of their seat with vivid, hair-raising haunting scenes. These ghost encounter scenes highlight Currie’s acumen for depicting the paranormal. Yet, the evocative imagery does not always surface in the presentation of other topics treated in Scritch Scratch. One minute readers will be engrossed in a ghost encounter with strong descriptions to help them conjure the scene in their own mind. The next that work is done for them, as readers are often told exactly how characters feel and what they are thinking. The author does the mental labor for the readers instead of leaving space for their own interpretation. On the other hand, these moments of narrated telling do balance out the emotional, frightening paranormal scenes, giving readers a brief respite from the mystery. The ebb and flow will keep readers engaged, but they might tire of the emotional swings.

You’d be hard pressed to find middle grade students that do not like scary stories and mysteries, even if they do not want to admit it (like Claire). Therefore, Scritch Scratch will be an instant favorite for the paranormal-loving brood. The inclusion of historical fiction would allow teachers to use the novel as a vehicle for their own cross-curricular novel study, incorporating local history, narrative writing, and even an opportunity for their own students to conjure a spooky story of their own. Scritch Scratch would be a fun, engaging read in the classroom, especially around Halloween. All characters assume the white default.

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and publisher, Sourcebooks Young Readers, for an eARC of this book!

Classroom Applications

  • Cross-curricular Study – Teach the novel in conjunction with a nonfiction study of local history or disaster events.
  • Literature Circles – Use novel for small groups or choice reading with a variety of mystery/spooky novels.
  • Book Club or Book Exchange – Share the novel with students that enjoy reading about ghosts, mysteries, and scary stories.

Nonfiction Connections: The list below outlines topics that will enrich your students’ understanding of the novel.

  • Chicago Disasters
  • Local History – Disaster Events
  • Paranormal Mysteries
  • Paranormal
  • Ghost Sightings & Science

Book Companions: The following are great books to pair with Scritch Scratch. In parenthesis are the specific aspects students could explore when synthesizing across the texts.

  • Small Spaces by Katherine Arden (Character Connections, Themes, Nonfiction Connections)
  • Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie (Character Connections, Themes, Nonfiction Connections)
  • The Witches by Roald Dahl (Character Connections, Themes)
  • The Haunting of Henry Davis by Kathryn Siebel (Character Connections, Themes, Nonfiction Connections)

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