Sunday, November 01, 2009
Closed for the Season, by Mary Downing Hahn
New kids are used to hearing stories about the places they move into from the local kids. Almost immediately upon driving up to their place, Logan meets the kid next door, Arthur. It doesn’t take long for Arthur to tell Logan that he was surprised anyone bought the place, considering what happened there. It’s not called the murder house for nothing.
Logan cannot believe that his mom and dad bought their new house knowing that someone was killed there. Logan’s folks think that Arthur is exaggerating, and while they agree that Mrs. Donaldson did die in the house, they doubt she was murdered.
Ever helpful Arthur takes Logan to the local library to check out the old newspapers from the time of Mrs. Donaldson’s death. Turns out that there is a lot more to the situation with Logan’s house than he even heard about from Arthur. There is missing money from Mrs. Donaldson’s job at a now abandoned theme park, and tremendous amounts of family drama, including the fact that Mrs. Donaldson’s son-in-law might have somehow been involved in this whole situation.
Now Arthur is the kind of kid who marches to his own drummer, and really doesn’t care what other kids think. Logan is fine with that although he is a little worried about what might happen once school starts. But they do have a long summer ahead of them, with unscripted days. Arthur is soon leading the charge for him and Logan to solve this old mystery. Logan’s a bit unsure about the whole thing, since it includes lots of bike riding up many hills and skulking around a creepy abandoned theme park.
Mary Downing Hahn has written an atmospheric and just creepy enough story. Don’t be fooled, there are issues of spousal abuse that make this a read for the older tween, but all of the details are appropriate to the story. Arthur, while unlikable, is believable and his story gives insight into the way that many children live. It’s a powerful thing to see a character shunned from his own mother, to the other kids at school, just keep moving on and be strong enough to believe in himself. The juxtaposition of Arthur and Logan’s families will definitely give readers something to think about.