Took, by Mary Downing Hahn (Sept. 2015, Clarion Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9780544551534
Recommended for ages 10-14
Local legend says that Old Auntie takes a new girl every 50 years to slave for the old witch. Once she’s worn out, she lets her go and takes another. And the girl let go never lives for long after.
Daniel and his sister Erica are new to West Virginia when they hear this story. It sounds ridiculous, right? And Daniel has more on his mind than worrying about some crazy old fairy tale. His family has relocated from Connecticut to this ramshackle house with a history in West Virginia after his father’s layoff. The kids at school are awful, and Erica withdraws further into herself and her doll, Little Erica. But when Erica disappears one night, word is that she’s been “took” – especially when a girl who looks like the one who disappeared 50 years before shows up wearing Erica’s clothes. His family is falling apart, and Daniel knows it’s up to him to get his sister back and make things right.
This book wraps itself around you like a fall chill. You can feel it creeping through you, but you can’t quite get it out of your bones until you finish it. Ms. Hahn creates a tale that had me searching the Web to find out if this was an actual local legend, it’s so fleshed out and believable. She gives us solid characters with issues we can certainly understand, possibly even empathize with – unemployment, underemployment, being bullied for being the new kid at school, and watching the cracks in one family threaten to tear it apart. It’s a very human story set within a paranormal thriller, and it’s a great read for kids who have aged out of Goosebumps and are ready for a little something more.
Mary Downing Hahn is an award-winning children’s book author and former children’s librarian (whoo hoo!). You can check out her author page and see a complete list of her books and read an FAQ with Ms. Hahn.