by Gail Jarrow
Calkins Creek, 2018
We are excited to be the first stop on the Spooked! blog tour. We are also giving away one copy of the book thanks to the generosity of Calkins Creek.
We are living in a time of 24 hour news, social media, fake news, bots, click bait and the blending of news and entertainment. Spooked! transports readers back to a simpler time when radio was the popular mode of home entertainment as well as a source of news. Families sat together and listened to music, news broadcasts and radio theater. The public also trusted newspapers and the radio to report the news accurately. One October evening in 1938 listeners were shocked when a news bulletin interrupted a musical performance on CBS radio to report on an alien invasion from Mars. What started as a prank performed by the Mercury Theater ended up causing panic, chaos and outrage across the country.
Gail Jarrow, known for her Deadly Diseases trilogy, introduces readers to John Houseman and Orson Welles. Houseman and Welles formed the Mercy Theater and adapted classic books into weekly radio plays. Houseman wrote the scripts and Welles performed them live along with other cast members. The duo adapted H.G. Wells' War of the World into a radio broadcast that aired on Oct. 30, 1938. Jarrow's extensive research into the radio broadcast provides reader a glimpse into the Mercury Theater's creative process including sound effects and music. Houseman and Welles were worried their play was going to be a flop with listeners because it was too boring. Boy, were they wrong!
The book describes the hysteria that resulted from the broadcast. Between 1.5 and 2 million people thought Martians had invaded the United Stated. People suffered medical emergencies, residents fled their homes, and telephone operators were inundated with phone calls. What was intended to be a Halloween prank set into motion a nation-wide frenzy. Photographs, illustrations and letters enhance the chapters. Near the end of the book, Jarrow brings to light issues about censorship, the role of the press and fake news. Readers who are intrigued by the story will want to check out the "More to Explore" section in the back matter which lists links to recordings of the radio broadcast and Youtube videos about the reaction.
You'll want to add Spooked! to your next book order. It is sure to fly off library shelves and will spark some interesting discussions about the media, the role and responsibilities of the press, and censorship.
Be sure to visit the other stops on the Spooked! blog tour.
Tuesday, 9/11 The Booklist Reader/Bookends
Wednesday, 9/12 KidLit Frenzy
Thursday, 9/13 Deborah Kalb Books
Friday, 9/14 Archimedes Notebook
Monday, 9/17 Ms. Yingling Reads
Tuesday, 9/18 Middle Grade Minded
Wednesday, 9/19 Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook
Thursday, 9/20 Middle Grade Book Village (with guest post by Gail Jarrow)
Friday, 9/21 Always in the Middle