While some kids crave books full of spooky creatures and heart-pounding thrills, others might want to sleep with the lights on after reading a scary scene! Luckily, The Happy Hollisters series provides the perfect “spooky but not too spooky” experience for young readers, offering a super introduction to the mystery/thriller genre without scaring them out of their wits.

Throughout their adventures in Shoreham and around the world, Pete, Pam, Ricky, Holly, and Sue Hollister encounter plenty of strange things. In The Happy Hollisters and the Haunted House Mystery, they’re called to solve the mystery of a potentially haunted house, where lights flicker and unusual noises are heard in the night. An old gravestone and a witch-shaped weathervane are key elements in The Happy Hollisters and the Mystery of the Golden Witch, and the family encounters a “talking” scarecrow with an ominous warning in The Happy Hollisters and the Scarecrow Mystery. In The Happy Hollisters and the Ghost Horse Mystery, the Hollisters even spot a ghost in the shape of a horse!

Spoiler Alert!

While some of these plot elements might sound eerie and supernatural, the Hollisters always learn that there is a logical explanation behind the mischief and mystery. For example, the “ghost horse” in The Happy Hollisters and the Ghost Horse Mystery is actually just a white horse running through the fog, and a mysterious noise in The Happy Hollisters and the Mystery of the Golden Witch is simply a klaxon—an antique car horn. As in the popular Scooby-Doo television series, the spooky occurrences and mysterious monsters often end up being the work of villains or pranksters—like the otherworldly noises in The Happy Hollisters and the Haunted House Mystery turn out to be mechanical rather than supernatural, set up by crooks trying to scare people away from their hiding spot.

Realizing that the Hollisters will always find a logical explanation, kids can find comfort even in some of the scarier parts of The Happy Hollisters series, and even in the scary books. The storylines also provide a great opportunity for parents to explain how mysterious occurrences in real life, like shadows in the corner of a bedroom or things that go bump in the night, often have totally logical, not-at-all- scary explanations!

Author Andrew Svenson, writing under the pseudonym Jerry West, created The Happy Hollisters series with the psyches of younger readers in mind. There may be mildly perilous situations, spooky occurrences, and breathtaking cliffhangers to keep reluctant readers interested in turning the pages, but there is always a happy ending and something interesting to be learned. Whether kids love the thrill of feeling scared or feel better knowing that the spooks are just tricks of the light or someone playing a prank, they’ll find something to love in The Happy Hollisters . . . no sleeping with the lights on necessary!

by Libby Svenson Kennedy