The House on the Hill, Kyle Mewburn (author), Sarah Davis (illus.), Scholastic , 2016.
‘Curiosity’ can present itself in many forms; and in this book it presents with a thrilling anticipation. Here is a story to send shivers of curiosity up your spine in the hauntingly stunning, The House on the Hill. With high levels of suspense to chill your bones, this poetic spookfest is a winner.
With Mewburn‘s ode to Edgar Allan Poe’s Raven, his romantically suave language and rhythmic canter beautifully rolls off the tongue. Sarah Davis‘s monochromatic, sepia toned imagery marries flawlessly with the spine-tingling lyrics to create an optimal intensity of creepiness and tension.
When two young ghosts are beckoned by the bell in the house on the hill, they find themselves “Upon the gate a portent hung, a dragon’s claw, a serpent’s tongue.” The initial terror slowly dissipates with more and more clues being revealed as the characters edge closer to their destination. Child-friendly hints dubiously lure us towards the dingy dwelling, like dancing moths, jack-o-lanterns and the characters’ outfits that appear distinctly like white sheets with cut-out eye holes.
Davis’s striking illustrations with her extreme angles and perspectives, perfectly placed focal objects and effective use of light and shade draw us in with every breath as we follow the ‘ghosts’, and their cat, on their journey through the ‘haunted’ house on the hill. And just when our hearts can’t race any faster, we reach the final reveal and encounter the most ghoulish group of vile creatures – children!
Ideal for your Halloween thrills and celebrations, but equally fun-tastic all the year round. Behind the moodiness and apprehension, The House on the Hill takes preschoolers through an adventure of bravery, friendship and togetherness. There is loads of room for educational opportunities with its brilliant use of poetry, vocabulary, visual literacy and the arts.
You can watch the spooktacular book reading with Kyle Mewburn here.
Teaching notes are available at the Scholastic website.