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Something Upstairs

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,822 Ratings  ·  193 Reviews

The mystery deepens

The room was shabby and dirty, heavy with heat. None of the things which Kenny called his own remained. Even the painted walls and skylight were gone.

Baffled, he wondered if other things even outside had changed. Kenny went to one of the windows and looked down. On a stoop across the dark street a man was standing, gazing straight at Kenny's window.

Paperback, 128 pages
Published July 22nd 2005 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1988)
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Cassie This book has some elements of historical fiction-- it isn't entirely based on it, but the main character is a boy who discovers a ghost in his home…moreThis book has some elements of historical fiction-- it isn't entirely based on it, but the main character is a boy who discovers a ghost in his home and visits the past to find the murderer of the ghost. The ghost was a child of a slave, killed in the 1800's, so the main character certainly experiences some history in his adventures.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,768)
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Jennifer Lavoie
Okay, so I remember reading this book back in fourth or fifth grade. And I'm now twenty-eight years old teaching in a middle school. This book really stayed with me, and I remember reading it, because I just loved it. However, I'm really embarassed to say this, but up until I finished the book and then looked up Avi's page online... I thought this really did happen.

You see, the way Avi writes the Author's Explanation in the beginning had me hooked as a kid and even today! I thought for SURE tha
Jun 07, 2010 Tamra rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone, especially youth
I would give this book more stars if I could! I loved this book as a kid and read it several times, thinking it would be less scary since I knew what was going to happen. Not so.

It's a completely compelling book, and one I would recommend to any youth. It's got some fun ideas about time travel (who doesn't want to time travel?) as well as some fun twists to the story. AWESOME.

Love it, love it.

Re-read Nov. 2009. Still just as compelling as the first time (my husband had to call me into
Amy Y.
The book Something Upstairs is about this boy named Kenny whose family moves into an old 1800's house that squeaks and creaks. Tedious, Kenny turns the attic into his very own bedroom with a wide open space and spacious windows. Kenny explores his new bedroom but then discovers a dried up stain on the wooden floor, but Kenny just ignored it. Then late at night, Kenny is awoken by a strange mist coming out of the stain. A shadow of a young African-american boy who claims he was shot in the early ...more
Mrs. Jacobs
Oct 06, 2010 Mrs. Jacobs rated it really liked it
I wish, so wish, that someone had been a bit more careful with the cover of this book. It looks juvenile. In fact, its cover prompted me to give the book to my 10-year-old rather than put it on my classroom bookshelf. However, it's definitely a middle school book. The plot is rich and thought-provoking; the ethical decisions with which the protagonist struggles are deeper than what a 10-year-old usually experiences. This historical understanding that needs to be brought by the reader requires mo ...more
Please don't judge this lovely little book by its unfortunate cover.

I've already come to respect Avi as a quality writer of original and engaging YA fiction, but I think this one takes the 'surprisingly better than expected' prize. Avi manages, in just over a hundred pages, to weave a complex, compelling story that combines the campfire ghost story with elements of time-travel yarn, murder mystery, and historical fiction, with a thoughtful look at the consequences of racism and a gripping moral
Rj O
Dec 06, 2015 Rj O rated it it was amazing
Book: Something Upstairs Author: Avi
Review: The book i recently read was Something Upstairs by Avi this book is about a boy named Kenny Huldorf, who is a boy from Los Angeles, California and his parents just told kenny they have recently took jobs in Providence, Rhode Island and they have already bought a house there!
The main setting of this book was mostly in Providence, Rhode Island the main conflict is that the house that kenny is living in is a very old house the first family to live in the
Feb 24, 2011 Katrina rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
I found this at the library and basically needed to check out two things to activate my account. I thought it would be a short interesting read, and it's been forever since I read anything by Avi. We'll see how this goes.

So, Avi is an author mostly read in middle school. So what. This was a quick read (only 116 pages), and a good one. It left me actually wanting to know more, but the story was done. The way this story is told is as a recounting of a young boy's personal memory. Avi is the narrat
Cynthia Egbert
Mar 10, 2016 Cynthia Egbert rated it liked it
Shelves: library
Avi is legit! He takes on a tough moment in history and he doesn't back down. He plays it out in all its ugliness and wraps it up in a creepy ghost story to boot.
Angie Fehl
Sep 23, 2014 Angie Fehl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice, light easing into my fall reads here! This was one of my favorite Avi books when I was a kid and was recently compelled to pick it up again to see how I saw the story as an adult. While I didn't find myself quite as riveted to the page as my childhood self seemed to be, I was still highly entertained, loving the nostalgia it brought back to me.

The intro to this story is Avi explaining that this is a "true story" told to him by Kenny Huldorf, the main character of Something Upstairs, Kenny
Mya Rivera
Dec 04, 2014 Mya Rivera rated it it was amazing
This book is inspired by a real story. Avi was on a tour around the country when he heard about this story. Kenny moved to Providence, RI from LA, and chose the attic for his bedroom. He likes the house, until one night he comes across a scathing noise in his closet and he went to go see and saw it was a ghost. The ghost was rising up from the floorboard Kenny was scared and he started to hide himself in the blankets then when he looked up the ghost had disappeared. As the nights go on Kenny con ...more
Grecia Flores
Oct 01, 2014 Grecia Flores rated it really liked it
***spoiler alert***We like scary books.I think the genre in fiction because ghosts aren't real.I like this book because is an inventure book.

The setting of the book is a little city the Kenny moves in.Kenny wanted to know what was making the noise in the night.But he was scare to know what was it and it was dark.So he got a flashlight that was onder his pillow.Then he went to the little room that the noise was coming from.The conflict is person vs person because Kenny and Caleb which is the ghos
Louis Florian
Feb 03, 2014 Louis Florian rated it liked it
Something Upstairs

The book “something upstairs” takes place in Rhode Island, where a boy moves into a new house with a horrible accident happen in the attic. A former slave was murder named Caleb the same age as Kenny (protagonist) and can’t be set free, until he finds out how he died and only Kenny can help but no one believes him about Caleb.
I think the book was great and had a good plot from the beginning to the end of the story. It had a lot of suspense, drama, mystery in one book. One of
Atsumi Kihara
May 17, 2015 Atsumi Kihara rated it really liked it
This is a historical fiction novel called “Something Upstairs” by Avi. The main character is a twelve years old boy called Kenny Huldorf.
He moves from Los Angeles to Providence, Rhode Island. He lives in a house of past events, built in 1789. Kenny's room is in the attic. One night Kenny wakes to a scraping noise in the old slave room. When he looks inside, he sees a ghost that tries to get out from a stain on the floor. It moves a box full of books out of the way. Once it is out, the ghost fe
Ichigo Kanamori
Dec 03, 2015 Ichigo Kanamori rated it it was ok
I didn't really like this book, because the story wasn't my favorite genre. It was a very easy book, but the story was a little confusing for me. Since this story was about time travel, in some part I got confused about which time the characters were. Also I am not very interested in the topic of slavery. The story was roughly about a boy who's trying to help his friend which came from the past, from getting killed by a murderer since he was a slave. However, since the characters weren't the sam ...more
Feb 03, 2014 Bethany rated it really liked it
My book is about a young boy named Kenny from California, who’s life changes when his dad gets a job in Rhode Island. He doesn’t expect what adventures are in store for him, once he gets to his new home .
I personally liked that this book because it has excitement and has a mystery feel to it. And I really like when Kenny starts to help find the murder of his new ghost friend. Two things I would change about this book would be Kenny’s parents not getting or wondering more about the ghost living
Julie Decker
Apr 22, 2014 Julie Decker rated it really liked it
Kenny moves into a new house and soon ends up meeting Caleb. Meeting new friends is pretty common in a new neighborhood, but what if your new pal is a ghost? Yep! Caleb was a slave during the Revolutionary War era, and he shows Kenny--in a very real way--what he went through during those awful times. However, Kenny isn't just a passive observer in this tale; he faces danger himself while trying to free his friend once and for all, and though Caleb is really the major focus of the story, Kenny is ...more
Jul 10, 2014 Jamie rated it it was amazing
I very much liked the ending, though I shan't reveal it, as not to ruin it for others.

The prose was well-written, and though intended for children, I found the language and style engaging and challenging enough to provoke thought in a younger reader (I am not!), but not discouragingly so.

The characters seemed well-thought, as did the background (location). I was able to envision the story and liked the dialogue, but even more so, the inner dialogue of the protagonist.

This is the second Avi boo
Nov 24, 2015 Stephanie rated it did not like it
when i was in third grade i attempted to read this book and i legit had the shit scared out of me. over 5 years later i still wont read this because of the crippling fear it gave me. i didnt sleep for an entire night and i remember so vividly laying on my side and crying but being too scared to move cause i thought if i moved someone would stab me in the back and kill me. probably the worst night of my third grade career and i never even finished it. im literally in 10th grade but everytime i th ...more
Amanda Cowher
Sep 29, 2012 Amanda Cowher rated it it was amazing
I read this book back in 1993, and it at the time was one of the spookiest books I had ever read.
Jul 16, 2012 Amy rated it really liked it
Read with my class- suitable for 4-8 depending upon the reading level. This book really hooks kids!
Apr 28, 2015 Julia rated it it was ok
According to a question I read in a contest for young readers through my library, this book had a time- traveling house. How could I not read it? Kenny has moved from California to Providence, RI. In his ‘new’ house, built in 1789, he meets (view spoiler) Caleb, who needs his help. Meh, not for me. Many of the reviews here, love it, pay attention to them; or maybe there could have been more going on in this very slight novel.

Read for Battle of the Books; I requested
Tammy LaPorta Rainwater
Read this with my son for school. I felt it was well below their age (8th). I think it was more for the theme. Their Social Studies unit Ida from that time period and also deals with slavery. At least I'm hoping why they're reading this for LA.

The story is ok. A quick read with just a bit more than 100 pages. I think the wrap up is a little anticlimactic but what can I expect for this reading level? I liked the use of history, time travel and the supernatural element of it. At least I got to spe
Emma Noelle Olsen
I will review this book as soon as possible. All I'll say for right now is that it surprised me in a good way!

Before the spoilers start, here's my overall review: If you like a good mystery, this is the book for you. If you haven't read this book and want to, now is a good time to stop reading this review.
Something Upstairs by Avi is the story of Kenny, who is moving from sunny southern California to rainy, boring, historical Providence, Rhode Island. Even though he's disappointed abou
Emily Mendoza
Oct 30, 2015 Emily Mendoza rated it it was amazing
SO what I thought about this book is that it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be. This book goes back to when slavery began. The book was sad when Kenny and Andrew (the ghost) found out who was Andrew's murder and it was the historian. I got really mad when I figured out who it was but yet Mr. Willinghast the (historian) changed history saying that a teenage slave had killed himself and in reality he didn't. The book was really amazing. In fact I really loved the book.
Aug 01, 2014 Jacquelyn rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up yesterday when buzzing through Barnes and Noble. I love books by Avi, and this one caught my eye. I'm sure my students will enjoy it, too. Avi pulls you in at the beginning of the book with the "author's explanation and keeps you wanting more. The mystery keeps you wanting to know what the main character will choose to do and . . .is it TRUE?? I read it in a matter of an hour - couldn't put it down.
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Kira M for

Twelve-year-old Kenny Huldorf tells the story of how when he moved to Providence, Rhode Island, he discovered his old house was haunted by the ghost of a slave named Caleb.

After doing some research, he discovers that someone murdered Caleb. Taken back in time by the ghost to solve the murder, Kenny becomes entangled in a mystery that will test his wits, his life, and the life of his newfound friend.

Will Kenny manage to right the wrong and save Caleb by unco
Apr 06, 2016 Valerie rated it liked it
I remember this book being a lot better. I've been obsessed with visiting Providence, RI ever since I read this book in elementary school, so after finally making the trip over to Providence I decided to crack open this book again. It was really just ok. Good enough for a kids' book, but I don't remember why I was so obsessed with it and with Rhode Island when I was a kid.
Apr 13, 2014 Gail added it
Shelves: 5th-grade-o
Avi guides the young reader into a fantasy book that mimics the complexity of a historical fiction. This is a great introduction to a shifting time line that is inherent in a lot of those complex historical fiction texts. This would make a great guided reading book to accompany the book clubs that Lucy Caulkins describes in her reading program.
Dec 09, 2015 Janie rated it liked it
This is an unusual ghost and a time travel story. It is about a family moving into an old house dating back to the Revolutionary times. The main character is the son whose bedroom is in the attic. I can't say I liked this book. I had questions about the boy who told Avi the story. Was there really a boy who had this experience or was he just a way to introduce the book in a different way?
Amber Lynch
Nov 23, 2010 Amber Lynch added it
Shelves: chapter
Enjoyed this historical fiction book.This book is about a boy named Kenny who moves from California to the historical town of Providence, Rhode Island. Kenny learns when he is exploring his new house that there is someone else who is in the house with him and his family. He then begins to explore the house in more detail and learns a lot about the history of his home. Kenny begins to unravel the mystery of Something Upstairs.

This book could be used to discuss the topic of slavery with students a
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Avi is a pen name for Edward Irving Wortis, but he says, "The fact is, Avi is the only name I use." Born in 1937, Avi has created many fictional favorites such as The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Nothing but the Truth, and the Crispin series. His work is popular among readers young and old.
More about Avi...

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