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On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave by…
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On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave

by Candace Fleming

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Mike Kowalski is just your average high school teen with a midnight curfew. Glancing at his car's dashboard clock, he realizes that he is running late again. Ignoring his ringing cell phone, he steps on the gas. Suddenly his car's headlights spotlight a girl standing directly in his path. Slamming on the brakes, Mike narrowly misses her. That's when things begin to get strange. The pale girl is wet, cold, and needs a ride home. What is Mike to do? He can't just leave her there.

After dropping her off, Mike notices her brand new saddle shoes on the floor of his car. He returns to the girl's house only to be told by her mother that she died many years ago. If Mike wants to return the shoes, he'll have to go to White Cemetery, a place just for young people. When he arrives, the cemetery seems forgotten and abandoned, but soon he realizes he's not alone. One by one the ghosts emerge all around him. Mike is horrified to discover that he cannot leave until he hears their stories...their death stories. Before the night is through, Mike will have heard them all, but will he be allowed to leave or will he become one of them?

The Bottom Line: This collection of short ghost stories takes place in the Chicagoland area; some are even loosely based on well-known urban legends and lore. Since Fleming's characters span different decades from 1853 - 2012, each short story is like a time capsule. While Mike's character is used to bind the stories together, each ghost has a unique voice. Thus, the short stories could easily stand alone; you could even skip a story or two without missing beat.

Although some of these stories are more original than others, all are fun and creepy. This quick read is recommended for kids in middle school who enjoy horror, paranormal, historical, and even science fiction. The characters are almost evenly divided between male and female characters appealing to both boys and girls. And don't forget, short ghost stories are always a hit around Halloween. Also, for those interested in Chicago urban legends, the author includes a notes section.

This review also appears at the Mini Book Bytes Book Review Blog. ( )
  aya.herron | Oct 13, 2013 |
Review from ARC from NetGalley.

I liked in Chicago so I knew some of the areas. It brought to mind an exercise we did in one of my MSLIS classes doing storytelling of urban legends/ghost stories. Nice. ( )
  kcarrigan | Aug 26, 2013 |
Grades 5 or 6 and up-- Mike is driving home late one night in the suburbs of Chicago when he sees a figure in the road and narrowly avoids hitting her. He gives her a ride home, but when he notices that she left her saddle shoes in the car, he goes up to her door, where her mother tells him that the girl he just gave a ride to has been dead for over 50 years. Each year on this date, she appears to someone as she walks along the road. Mike takes her shoes to the small local graveyard and when he reaches the section of the cemetery set aside for people who died in their teens, he is beset by a group of adolescent spirits who want to tell their stories. The nine stories that follow are suitably chilling to satisfy kids who can't get enough ghost stories. An afterword from Candace Fleming gives the historical context of each of the stories that are included in the collection. A fun and shivery read for upper elementary and middle school students. ( )
  KimJD | Apr 8, 2013 |
I love a good ghost story and On the Day I Died: Stories From the Grave did not disappoint. This is a collection of stories that details the untimely demise of nine teenagers. Each person has a unique story to tell and they range from scary to truly horrifying. The fact that author peppers the story with actual facts from Chicago's history makes it all the more terrifying. I would highly recommend this to people who enjoy ghost stories! ( )
  68papyrus | Mar 18, 2013 |
A teen is driving home one night, meets a ghost, and ends up listening to stories from other teen ghosts in this teen graveyard of how they died. Good for ghost stories. They are drawn together by the telling of the stories, but each story stands on its own as well. All are rooted in historical facts or lore, as well as urban legends. The stories vary widely, from historical to science fiction. For readers who can enjoy going back and forth. ( )
  SparklePonies | Mar 18, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375867813, Hardcover)

The phenomenally versatile, award-winning author, Candace Fleming, gives teen and older tween readers ten ghost stories sure to send chills up their spines. Set in White Cemetery, an actual graveyard outside Chicago, each story takes place during a different time period from the 1860's to the present, and ends with the narrator's death. Some teens die heroically, others ironically, but all due to supernatural causes. Readers will meet walking corpses and witness demonic posession, all against the backdrop of Chicago's rich history—the Great Depression, the World's Fair, Al Capone and his fellow gangsters.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:38 -0400)

In a lonely Illinois cemetery one cold October night, teen ghosts recount the stories of their deaths in different time periods, from 1870 to the present, to sixteen-year-old Mike, who unknowingly picked up a phantom hitchhiker.

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