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“The Strangers” by Margaret Peterson Haddix

--Staff Picks Kids

Greystone Secrets: The Strangers

Margaret Peterson Haddix
Published: 2019
Age Range: 9-12
Genre: Adventure, Realistic Fiction
Awards: A Junior Library Guild selection

Joan read The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix and this is what she thought…

The story follows Chess, Emma, and Finn Greystone–ages 12, 10, and eight—as they investigate why their mother went missing, and uncover their ties to an alternate world. It was a great adventure with elements of science fiction and mystery thrown in as well. What made it really interesting was watching the sibling dynamics as they worked together to unravel the clues their mother left them. There were lots of feelings in this book. The kids were constantly feeling worried or scared while they were working to figure out clues, which made me feel impatient to see what would happen next. Then when they figured out the next step they got excited, which made me happy too.

I liked how each Greystone child had their own distinct personality. Chess is the “grown-up” – trying to take care of the others. Emma is the logical one – she looks at everything like it’s a puzzle to be solved. Finn is the wild card – everyone thinks he’s too young to understand or help, but he looks at thing differently, which ends up helping a lot sometimes. The story is told in very short chapters, from Chess, Emma, and Finn’s points of view. While this made it easy to read, it also made the story feel a bit choppy sometimes.

The Strangers main themes are adventure and fantasy. The book keeps moving constantly, always introducing new elements or information just as the kids are about to solve what they’re working on. Also, the things that happen are not things that normally happen to kids, so it’s exciting to see what comes next.

Who would you recommend this book to?

Middle grade readers (4th to 6th) who enjoy a balance of realistic fiction and fantasy. I liked this book because it was really well paced, and there were lots of different parts that came together well. Interesting and relatable characters, problems to be solved, a mystery to investigate, and then a parallel world to try and understand. Can’t wait to read the next book in the Greystone Secrets series!