2022 - Small Spaces
This year's winner was generating buzz since the start of the school year. Not only did Small Spaces take the prize, it was by far the most read book of the 2022 nominees with 78% of the voters indicating they had read this book. Here is what Idaho kids thought of Small Spaces:
"Small Spaces gave me the chills BUT it's one of the most fantastic books I have read. (p.s. make sure your dad overpacks your lunch)" -C.F.
"This book has everything you need: action, adventure, and thrill" -A.K.
"This story put chills down my spine. Scary and exciting" -L.H.
"This story certainly kept my heart pounding with every turn Ollie made. I love this story and all of its chilling suspense" -A.H.
"It's scary, fun, and original. A great book about loss, friendship, and finding your way" -K.B.
Summary from Katherine Arden's Website:
After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie only finds solace in books. So when she happens upon a crazed woman at the river threatening to throw a book into the water, Ollie doesn’t think–she just acts, stealing the book and running away. As she begins to read the slender volume, Ollie discovers a chilling story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who both loved her, and a peculiar deal made with “the smiling man,” a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price.
Ollie is captivated by the tale until her school trip the next day to Smoke Hollow, a local farm with a haunting history all its own. There she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she’s been reading about. Could it be the story about the smiling man is true? Ollie doesn’t have too long to think about the answer to that. On the way home, the school bus breaks down, sending their teacher back to the farm for help. But the strange bus driver has some advice for the kids left behind in his care: “Best get moving. At nightfall they’ll come for the rest of you.” Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie’s previously broken digital wristwatch, a keepsake reminder of better times, begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN.
Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed the bus driver’s warning. As the trio head out into the woods–bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them–the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: “Avoid large places. Keep to small.”
And with that, a deliciously creepy and hair-raising adventure begins.