Do not read this one before bedtime, or in a cornfield at sunset, or most definitely  not in SMALL SPACES.small spaces

This well spun tale begins as a mystery of sorts for about the first hundred pages. The rest of the way can only be described as TERRIFYING. A busload of sixth graders and their teacher are on a field trip to a farm. (By the way, I doubt the bus driver was ever employed by the school district.) For young Ollie, things seem eerily familiar to the book she’s been reading also called Small Spaces.

The bus gets stuck on a misty dark road. Ollie discovers the scarecrows are alive but can only get you at night. Yikes. The tension put forth is at an all time high. I’m talking Goosebumps to the tenth power. But what great writing! You’ll savor the twists and turns. The middle grade audience will enjoy every minute spent with Ollie and her creepy adventure. I for one will be reading this  again every Halloween.


THE OFFICIAL BLURB (From Putnam and Penguin Young Readers Group)

After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie only finds solace in books. So when she happens upon a crazed woman at the river threatening to throw a book into the water, Ollie doesn’t think–she just acts, stealing the book and running away. As she begins to read the slender volume, Ollie discovers a chilling story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who both loved her, and a peculiar deal made with “the smiling man,” a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price.Ollie is captivated by the tale until her school trip the next day to Smoke Hollow, a local farm with a haunting history all its own. There she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she’s been reading about. Could it be the story about the smiling man is true? Ollie doesn’t have too long to think about the answer to that. On the way home, the school bus breaks down, sending their teacher back to the farm for help. But the strange bus driver has some advice for the kids left behind in his care: “Best get moving. At nightfall they’ll come for the rest of you.” Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie’s previously broken digital wristwatch, a keepsake reminder of better times, begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN.Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed the bus driver’s warning. As the trio head out into the woods–bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them–the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: “Avoid large places. Keep to small.”

And with that, a deliciously creepy and hair-raising adventure begins.




  1. Ollie is a fantastic heroine. Her decisions and eventual understanding of classmates bring her character full circle.
  2. There may be a run on scarecrow costumes this Halloween, although the ones in
    Small Spaces aren’t looking to fill their bag with candy.
  3. You might get the chills reading this one, but it’s a good kind of chill knowing you’ve read a great story.
  4. Some may call this short, but at 224 pages it is just right for middle graders.
  5. The story matches the attention grabbing cover. So many elements to entice readers.


The driver looked all around and then whispered so that she could barely hear, “They are strong at night, remember? They have clever, grabbing hands, but stiff. and they can’t grab you if they can’t reach you. At night!


Born in Austin, Texas, Katherine Arden spent a year of high school in Rennes, France. Following her acceptance to Middlebury College in Vermont, she deferred enrollment for a year in order to live and study in Moscow. At Middlebury, she specialized in French and Russian literature. After receiving her BA, she moved to Maui, Hawaii, working every kind of odd job imaginable, from grant writing and making crêpes to guiding horse trips. Currently she lives in Vermont, but really, you never know.


I received a copy of the book for my honest review. Today’s post is a part of Penguin Teen/Kids #wickedreads campaign. Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, New Release and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to SMALL SPACES

  1. Bibi Belford says:

    Yikes! I’m never chaperoning a field trip again!!

  2. This sounds like it would scare the snot out of me. Heck, that cover alone scared me pretty well, but my granddaughter is crazy for scary things. I will order a copy for her. Thanks for telling me about it.

  3. Dorine WHITE says:

    The title and the cover alone would creep me out.

  4. I’m with Rosi! The cover is beyond creepy! I know there are a lot of readers who love scary stories and this definitely fits the bill. Great Halloween pick, but not for me! I don’t like scary.

  5. Danielle Hammelef says:

    I just finished City of Ghosts and now placed this book on hold at my library. I am excited to start reading this one.

  6. Perfect Halloween week pick! I’d like to read this one–but it will probably be too much for my youngest. Thanks for your review.

  7. I learned at age six or seven to not read books which I know are going to scare me silly! That said, thanks for sharing this one with us for MMGM today, Greg. The cover art is very clever.

  8. maila says:

    what is the falling action in small spaces

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