Curse of the Dead-Eyed Doll

Jolly Fish Pr. (Haunted States of America: Bk. 2). Sept. 2019. 136p. Tr $27.13. ISBN 9781631633478; pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781631633485.
Gr 3-6–Thirteen-year-old Alejandro (Al) Padilla gets a little more than he bargains for when his class takes a field trip to the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West, FL. The Civil War–era fort features local folk art, Key West industries, military history, and Robert the Doll. Al grossly underestimates how important it is for him to pay attention to the tour guide’s strict guidelines for viewing Robert. Known as the cursed doll, museum visitors must ask for Robert’s permission before they can take a picture of him. Al doesn’t take much stock in the warnings and flippantly clicks a picture of Robert while calling the doll a “creepy little thing.” This is where things go wrong for Al. His bus has a flat tire on the way back to school, which makes him late to football practice. He knows if he’s late to practice, he won’t be able to play in the next game, plus he will have to run laps. Frantically trying to get his football gear on, he somehow locks himself out of his locker. Once he gets someone to finally cut off the lock, he has missed almost all of practice. The bad luck continues and accelerates in its severity until finally, Al must acknowledge the power of Robert’s curse. Characters are one dimensional and the plot is easy to predict.
VERDICT Part of the “Haunted States of America,” this title isn’t a very engaging contribution to a potentially intriguing series. Readers who really want a scare could check out books by Mary Downing Hahn or Betty Ren Wright.

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