Description (from Goodreads):
The phenomenally versatile, award-winning author, Candace Fleming, gives teen and older tween readers ten ghost stories sure to send chills up their spines. Set in White Cemetery, an actual graveyard outside Chicago, each story takes place during a different time period from the 1860′s to the present, and ends with the narrator’s death. Some teens die heroically, others ironically, but all due to supernatural causes. Readers will meet walking corpses and witness demonic posession, all against the backdrop of Chicago’s rich history—the Great Depression, the World’s Fair, Al Capone and his fellow gangsters.
On the Day I Died felt like a throwback to some of the books I really enjoyed as a kid, specifically Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories series. This book is a series of short stories set in a framework of a living boy hearing the death stories of other teenagers whose lives were cut short. That in itself isn’t very remarkable, but many of the stories are based in the history of Chicago or in folklore. There is a story that retells “The Monkey’s Paw”, we meet the vanishing hitchhiker, and there are references to “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Poe’s “Berenice.” Fleming also incorporates the Chicago gangsters, the State Asylum, and the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893.
The stories move quite quickly, and this will be a short read for many. I’d feel fine giving this to an advanced older elementary-aged reader, because that’s the age I think it would have had the most resonance with me. The stories aren’t entirely spooky, either; there’s a bit of humor thrown in, so I never thought that the book got bogged down in horror. What I enjoyed best of all, though, were Fleming’s notes at the end of the book, much like Schwartz used to have. I really enjoy seeing the historical and folkloric explanations of the stories, and hope that young readers will be curious enough to seek out more information on anything they found interesting.