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Author: Polacco, Patricia
When the spooky Graves family moves to town and tries to fit in with the "normal" residents of Union City, everyone is in for a few surprises.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: LG
Reading Level: 5.30
Points: 1.0 Quiz: 74460
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: K-2
Reading Level: 3.70
Points: 3.0 Quiz: 34100
|Accelerated Reader Disk:|
Librarians' Picks, Lower Grades 2003, Disk: LP-07
Powerhouse Authors, Disk: P-12
Bulletin for the Center... - 11/01/2003 When Doug and Shalleaux Graves move their family into the old house on Park Street the first thing they do is paint the place “bloodred”: “No one in the village even considered visiting them after that. Even the postman left their mail at the curb.” Enter Seth and Sara Miller, the children who live across the street. The two meet Ronnie (Hieronymus) Graves, “a boy about their age,” and the three become fast friends; after some time, the Miller siblings are invited inside the Graves’ mysterious house. It is worth the wait: the house is filled with exotic spiders, Venus flytraps, and a laboratory housing strange experiments (including one made from an enzyme in cat follicles that will grow hair on anything). Ronnie’s jolly if weird parents welcome Seth and Sara, who in turn smooth the way for Dr. and Mrs. Graves’s entree into local society—which doesn’t go quite as they had hoped. Polacco’s chirpy tale is closer to the Munsters than to the Addamses; the text is overlong and the eventual focus on the adults is disappointing. There’s still plenty of amusement, though, in the sweetly monstrous outsiders and their efforts to be accepted. The illustrations add some energy, splashing across the spreads in swoops of color and activity, and the characterizations of the small-town movers and shakers are right on the money, from the tasteful strings of pearls to the gentlemen’s bouffant hairdos (newly restored by Dr. Graves’ potion). Kids with a penchant for haunted houses will be attracted by the cover art (which features a spooky front door with a malevolent-looking door knocker) and will likely stay for the party. - Copyright 2003 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
School Library Journal - 09/01/2003 Gr 2-4-When Doug and Shalleaux Graves and their children move to Union City and paint their house blood red, the villagers stay away. Then Seth and Sara, two young neighbors, visit and become friendly with young Hieronymus, and they explore the spooky house. Their mother invites Mrs. Graves to a garden club tea, where her baby Venus flytrap eats the lemon squares, the tea set, and the ladies' hats. After this fiasco, the Graves family's social standing declines further. Then Christopher Joel, a home-decorating guru, comes to town to judge the neighborhood House Show. After spotting the Graves's residence, he declares it the most perfect haunted house, and offers the family a magazine cover story. From that day on, the villagers declare that the Graves and their house "fit in." Polacco's fans may be disappointed in this story. It is lighter and less emotionally resonant than many of her other works, but it has fun and farcical moments, creative puns, and over-the-top descriptions. Unfortunately, the text goes on too long, causing some of the amusing episodes to drag. Polacco's illustrations, in her standard technique of pen-and-ink with watercolor washes, have a comic, cartoon look, also something of a departure from her usual style. While this title demonstrates Polacco's storytelling range, it is not a central title in her canon.-Rachel G. Payne, New York Public Library Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. - Copyright 2003 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 09/15/2003 After the Graves family move into the house on the hill, they paint it blood red, encourage spiders and bats to share their living quarters, and cultivate enormous Venus flytraps. They try to fit in with the neighbors, but Mrs. Graves' flytrap, Phoebe, kills the plants at the Ladies Garden Club Tea, and Dr. Graves' hair tonic makes its recipients scratch with fleas. Then a Hollywood decorator comes to town to select the best-decorated house of the year, and deems the Graveses' mansion best: I've never seen such terrifying decor . . . ever! Polacco uses a light touch--playing with character names and understating her humor--even as she makes the point that the world is big enough for all kinds of people. As always, her colorful artwork is delightful, filled with the denizens of small-town America who are in perfect contrast to the overpowering but well-meaning Graveses. Pair this with Jeffrey Swope's The Araboolies of Liberty Street (1989) for a another look at unusual neighbors. - Copyright 2003 Booklist.