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text 2018-11-05 02:12
Have you heard of Stepp Cemetery?

 

There is a place in my town called “Stepp Cemetery” and local legends talks of a sad, lonely ghost of a Woman in Black who wanders the graveyard. There are many different versions of why this ghost is there, but in all versions she remains behind, mourning over a lost family member. Some say she sits on an old tree stump, protecting the graves of loved ones and if you listen you can hear her cry. Growing up we always heard about the stories, so of course, it was common for people to go ghost hunting and exploring. A lot of dark stuff is rumored to take place there as well.

 

It was after Halloween, around 2am of the next morning. I was a teenager. My family and some of my neighbors randomly decided to load up and go to the graveyard. We had the idea that we would go and find the Woman in Black, but what we found proves that the living are far more scarier than the dead.

 

Stepp Cemetery felt eerie, but that was to be expected. The wind was howling and you could imagine the sounds of a crying female and dark, fleeting shadows were always just around the corner. It is safe to say that we thoroughly spooked ourselves. I don't know if anything ghostly we saw or heard was real or imagined, but at the time it all felt real.

 

Some of us took the experience seriously, but most of us were just being silly and goofing off, though I don't think in an overly disrespectful manner. Just kids and kids at heart being kids, I guess.

 

After exploring for a while, we came across a grave of what looked like a young child. It had an Angel headstone. There was a melted candle on top of it. Our first thoughts went to devil worshiping; it just felt wrong. The sound of the wind suddenly seemed louder, the cries that may or may not have been the ghost, sounded more desperate. We were more unsure and nobody was joking around anymore.

 

 

That frightened us enough that the adults decided we should probably head back to the cars. As we were heading back, we noticed two people far in the distance. They also felt so-so wrong. Nobody spoke. We all felt this. One by one we got behind a huge tree, hiding from view. Luckily, the men hadn’t noticed us. As the men came near us, we moved around the tree to stay out of view. It would have been comical, like something from an old cartoon had it not been so scary.

 

The men got to the gravestone with the melted candle. One bent down and started digging. “Where is it?” He sounded gruff and furious. There was a glint at his side. He was armed.

 

A fight or flight moment happened and without speaking again, we all bolted and ran back for our cars. The men saw and started to chase us. The wind seemed to be chanting go, go, go!

 

“Give it back!” Whatever the men were looking for, they thought we took it. Was the burning candle a marker for something? What could these men possibly want to find in this old forgotten cemetery? What was so important that they would come armed? Was it drug related or something darker?

 

Somehow we made it to the cars. It was now around 3am, I noticed as we pulled out.

 

As if the men weren't bad enough, as we left a van full of men in white masks and black robes pulled into the graveyard. They stared at us and it felt like they were burning our image into their memory. I will never forget the fear I felt and I am sure everyone else felt the same terror. A couple more minutes and we would have been caught by whoever these men in masks were.

 

 

Were they devil worshipers? Were they just college kids doing a fraternity initiation? We will never know, but they felt bad.

 

As for the Woman in Black? I think she is real and a protecting spirit. We have family buried at Stepp Cemetery, so was she protecting us as well and whenever we did things unspoken as a whole, I wonder if it was because of her influence.

.

 

 

The moral of this story is be careful when you go to a place where you only expect the dead. The living are far worse

 

[Images are free for personal and commercial use: www.pexels.com]

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review 2018-09-09 17:56
The Graveyard Book
The Graveyard Book. Children's Edition - Neil Gaiman

This is a fiction horror novel about a boy who lives in a graveyard and is raised by ghosts. I would only read this to kids in 5th, or 6th grade because it is kind of scary and definitely has complex/mature themes including death and violence. If a 4th grader was mature enough and their parent allowed it, I would allow him or her to read it independently. I think Fountas & Pinnell would level it as a U or V which would be 5th grade. When I read it for the first time in 5th grade it scared me, but I read it again in my children's literature class and it still gave me the creeps! I would definitely have to send home a permission slip before I read this to a class.

An activity could be to have kids decorate their own headstones around Halloween. This sounds super creepy, but I would want them to describe themselves with strong adjectives or to write a short poem to be printed on their head stones. I would hang these on the door around Halloween.

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review 2018-09-07 18:46
Who is Nobody?
The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

Nobody (Bod) Owens, was raised by ghosts after his parents were killed by the man Jack. He was granted Freedom of the the Graveyard in order to blend in with his surroundings. As Bod gets older, he becomes interested in being educated outside of the graveyard which inevitably makes him noticeable. He battles ghouls, bullies, and naturally curious nature to eventually make peace with who he is and who he has for a family.  I would use this book during language arts. I feel that it would give students the opportunity to discuss their imagination that is typically suppressed as they grow. There are plenty of areas in the book for students to share their view on family and how would their lives be different if they grew up like Bod. The Lexile Measure is 820L.

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review 2018-09-02 17:53
Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard
Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard - Lawrence M. Schoen
Far in the future, there are no remnants of human life left. In a distant solar system, the uplifted elephant-like species of Barsk, the Fant live out their daily lives excluded from the many other uplifted species.  However, Barsk is the only planet that can grow the plants for a variety of medicinal drugs.  One drug, called koph helps those with the talent of Speaking to interact with the dead.  Jorl is a Fant who is a Speaker and a historian who has specialized in the prophesies of the Matriarch.  Jorls often Speaks to his best friend, Arlo and helps to take care of his son, Pizlo.  While Speaking, Jorl notices that he cannot connect with several Fant's that have just passed, this knowledge combined with some interesting visions that Pizlo has begun to see, causes Jorl to believe that he is part of one of the prophesies.
 
Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard is a unique fantasy that pulled me into a different world.  This is a story that you have to allow yourself to go with the flow and immerse yourself into the world of Barsk.  The inhabitants of Barsk and the other worlds are all mammals that have been somehow integrated with human thought process, language and emotions while still having traits of the animal they originated from.  This made for an interesting conflicts between beings as well as a mystery as to why everyone else disliked the Fant.  Since there was so much going on, I focused on Jorl and his insights as well as Pizlo.  Pizlo was the most intriguing character for me.  He is an outcast, since he was born to parents who were not fully bonded.  Fant- besides his mother and Jorl ignore Pizlo, however Pizlo seems to have the greatest sense about what is going on with Barsk and those who are after its resources.  Once Jorl and Pizlo begin to investigate the issues with the dead, things get complicated. The draw of koph has pulled in many other inhabitants from around the galaxy and they are not about to play nicely.  Tensions rise as Speakers try to draw out knowledge from deceased Fant as well as almost deceased Fant.  From here the story got very political and could easily relate to many trade situations happening on Earth.  Pizlo's character added the elements of innocence and fantasy to keep the story on track for me.  The ending also surprised me with what they were all hiding.  Overall, a distinctive fantasy that has a lot to offer. 
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 
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review 2018-08-29 16:51
The Graveyard Book
The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book follows Nobody Owens, Bod for short, as he explores his home in a graveyard. Readers join Bod on many adventures throughout his life from escaping the Indigo Man and the ghoul-gate, as well as finding out the truth about his true identity. Bod is safe in the graveyard from the dangers of the outside world, as well as from the man named Jack who killed his family prior to Bod's arrival at the graveyard. The book includes many paranormal characters that encourage student engagement. 

 

I was skeptical when I saw the book on the required reading list for children's literature course but I ended up enjoying the reading. The book is mysterious and thrilling that students enjoy and keep them engaged. There are many different subjects that can be integrated into the reading such as science and social studies. At the end of chapter 3, Mrs. Lupescu identifies different constellations in the sky. After reading chapter 3 of the book, I would have my students, as a group, research the different constellations and do an oral report. 

 

AR Level: 5.1

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