Pip and the Twilight Seekers – Book Two of the Spindlewood Tales
Written and Illustrated by Chris Mould
If your students like dark and scary, there is plenty in this one to creep them out. In the walled city of Hangman’s Hollow, Jarvis, the evil city warden, looks for children. He is tall and skinny with a hook instead of a left hand. He hates children and is determined to get rid of them all. Not only have children been outlawed in the city, Jarvis, instead of locking them up, sells them to the woods folk in the magical forest at the edge of town. Witches and strange animals drool at the sight of tender human children. Jarvis has recently had a bad experience. Three children escaped from him (Pip and the Woodwitch Curse, book one of the Spindlewood trilogy) and he is driven by rage to find them again. Pip, Toad and Frankie are now hiding in an inn called Deadman’s Hand. They are cozy and warm by the fire and have plenty to eat, but they know that they are hunted. In addition, a mysterious wooden doll has the ability to tell children’s locations if a person knows how to ask properly. Jarvis knows how. When the doll falls into his hands, he finds the children with ease. Again he confronts Pip, Toad and Frankie. Jarvis almost captures the three, but then the townspeople attack him. They are fed up with his devious ways. Pip knows where the captured children are in the wild wood and talks the other two into rescuing them. The result is a hair-raising chase out of the woods. Even though the children return to Hangman’s Hollow, they know that Jarvis is still out there.
Even as scary as I found this book to be, it would be a good story for those older reluctant readers who need a compelling read. The chapters are short, the print is big and the illustrations make this look like a graphic novel. Story details are not clear, although there is some explanation in the excerpted part at the end. Because the setting is so vivid, literacy activities, such as making a diorama or a visual representation of the “world”, would extend the story in an interesting way.