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Behind the Bookcase

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  219 ratings  ·  60 reviews
A girl stumbles into a fantastic world in this tale perfect for fans of Coraline, Alice in Wonderland, and The Twilight Zone.

Spending the summer at her grandmother's house is the last thing Sarah wants to do—especially now that Grandma Winnie has died—but she has no choice. Her parents have to fix the place up before they can sell it, and Sarah and her brother, Billy, have
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 9th 2012 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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"Behind the Bookcase" was a charming read when considered as a whole. I loved the illustrations and the fact that it was an otherworld type story with a colorful cast of characters and creatures. Sarah's a 12-year old who arrives at her mother's creepy childhood home. Her grandmother passed away not long ago. Sarah's family cleans up the house in order to sell it. The house has many secrets, but notably, Sarah realizes there's another world beyond a bookcase that has a secret opening.

The story f
To make a Behind the Bookcase cocktail

13 oz vintage Tim Burton
15 oz Alice in Wonderland
7 oz non alcoholic Philip Pullman
9 oz of Coraline

You may add several slices of Del Toro's version of Don't Be Afraid of the Dark to taste if desired.

Shake well in a cocktail shaker that your whole family can handle with ease. Mixture will make thirteen servings. Serve in your wickedest cocktail glass and garnish each with a sprig of Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita for fun. Best served at the strok
Alfreda Morrissey
My kids LOVED this book. I have two young girls age 6 and 8. I was worried the book would be too scary for my youngest, but they enjoyed it immensely. Every time I would close it up for the night, they would beg for one more chapter. When I refused, they would ask me to at least read them the chapter title so they could guess what had happened next.

It did remind me of Alice in Wonderland, but I liked this better, because there was a purpose to the world. It was not just random weird things for t
Stephanie Cover2CoverBlog
Background: Sarah and Billy are brother and sister and have come to their grandmothers old house to pack it up to sell it with their parents. The problem is, that while there, the children find out that behind the bookcases are secret passageways to other worlds and that their grandmother had a very important job to do.

Review: Go get this book for yourself, your children, your grandparents, it is adorable and full of surprises. There are illustrations throughout the book and they just add to its
Had the chance to meet the author at a Barnes & Noble event in Cincinnati the first weekend of November - otherwise would never have found this solid middle grade book.

I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure - common trope of disappearing into another world; time stands still in our own. Also, the tension built well in the first third of the book. I kept waiting for Sarah to discover... As the book continues, Sarah discovers that she has to right the wrong that she unwittingly set in motion. Sara
Jessica Hottman
Behind the Bookcase by Mark Steensland, has a great main character in it. Sarah Marie Steiner is a twelve year old girl from California. She has a brother named Billy and a mom and a dad. She is scared of the dark and often bickers with her younger brother Billy, who is much more brave than she is. Her grandmother Winnie, an eccentric lady from Pennsylvania, has recently passed away. She then travels with her family to her grandmother’s house to clean up the house and sell it. The story takes a ...more
This is an adorable little middle grade. After her Grandma Winnie passes away, Sarah goes with her family to restore her old house to sell. Her mom has never wanted to go visit because her childhood there was so creepy. When they arrive, Sarah discovers that her grandma had wanted to tell her things that she didn't have time to. She also finds a secret passageway behind the bookcase in her room. After making several mistakes because she wanted to do it on her own, she learns to accept help from ...more
Just this, wow, such a magical book. Really hoping for a second book!
Natasha Yeryomina
I deeply enjoyed this first i had very low expectations about it as i didn't really know what it was about, but as soon as i turned the first page I couldn't put the book down. It took me a week to read which. I think this is definitely a book everyone would like but my only dislike was the ending.... I got to the last chapter and I was extremely confused to the ending, it didn't end that was the problem, i feel left unsatisfied and in complete. almost like the writer got board and decid ...more
Maria Camp
Lacks character development. No real tension or magic. Disappointing.

The title and cover art drew me to this story; however, I considered abandoning the book several times. It just did not deliver. The characters were flat. I felt no tension reading it. I had to make myself finish it. I didn't really care what happened. Too predictable. Too much telling. Not enough showing. - "Sarah was terrified."

I didn't like the main character. She felt bossy and lacking in substance. Too easily misled. Kind
Ms. Yingling
Sarah and her family move into her grandmother's house in order to fix it up. It's creepy and decrepit, but has been for years, and Sarah's mother says it has always been that way, and there is even a locked door in the basement that the grandmother claimed lead to Penumbra, where the souls of the dead lived. There's a lot of creepy knocking going on, but the family blames it on the pipes... until Sarah is sucked into another world, called Scotopia. She meets Balthazat, who claims to be the King ...more
After the death of her grandmother, Sarah's family packs up their car and drivs cross country to pack up her grandmother's belongings and sell the house. Sarah soon finds out that her grandmother's house is far more than your regular old house. She soon learns that she can travel to other worlds through her grandmother's house and finds herself on a dangerous mission to save multiple worlds from destruction.

Middle aged readers who enjoyed Coraline and Alice in Wonderland will love this story ful
Full disclosure: I read a free e-galley from Netgalley.

Full disclosure part 2: I didn't finish this book, but I've read enough to book talk it, so I feel that I can quit and move on to something better.

Sarah moves with her family to her grandmother's house so they can clean it up and sell it, since she recently passed away. The house has a strange feeling to it, and lots of little doors and noises that make it seem like it's hiding a secret. Well, it's hiding a doozy. Sarah's grandmother helped
This is a first publication for this author and it shows. Some things limp in a way that I think a more experienced author might not have written, particularly in dialogue. Once you get past the first surprise of who is a bad guy, the rest of the characters is somewhat predictable in who is good and who isn't. I cannot give him a lot of credit for originality because the worlds are so clearly based on heaven and hell with a third world clearly based on Dante's Purgatory. Having the bad guy the t ...more
Sarah's Grandma Winnie has died and for the summer, she and her family will be at her Grandma's house sorting things out. It's not the kind of summer she wanted, especially after seeing the house. But nothing can be done and she has to make the most of it.

It seems like a normal, run-down house, but Sarah learns the house has secrets. Behind the bookcase in her room is a door that leads to another world. Sarah can't believe it! There she meets a talking cat and other strange creatures. But soon s
Known to be something of a scaredy-cat, Sarah isn't looking forward to her family vacation at her grandmother's house, especially since a) her grandmother has died and b) her mom has such strange tales to tell about the stories that granny use to tell.

On settling in the house, strange things start to happen. There are sounds of knocking, but signs of who or what is doing the knocking. Dad blames the pipes, while Sarah thinks her brother, Billy, is trying to spook and annoy her.

Ordered to head up
In Behind the Bookcase by Mark Steensland, two kids go with their parents to the creepy house their grandmother lived in before she died. They are going to clear the house out and sell it. Sarah discovers the land of Scotopia behind the bookcase in her bedroom. There she meets a cat who identifies himself as the King of the Cats, as well as a walking hand with a large eye in the palm and a boy with only half a face. Sarah makes a terrible mistake and sets out to fix things. Along the way, she me ...more
Cute but derivative story about a girl discovering a secret world and then trying to stop an evil creature from destroying her world. It felt like Coraline Redux with a dash of Alice in Wonderland. The familiarity of the story kept me from enjoying it more though young readers will probably like this one. Being so short and straight forward made me think this was geared toward the younger end of Juvenile readers (age 7-11). I found the parents a bit too naive and the plot a bit too easy to wrap ...more
This was a wonderfully creative magical adventure. It was exactly the type of book I would've loved when I was young. I enjoyed it even now as an adult. Mark Steensland has created some interesting worlds and unusual characters from cloud people to walking hands with one eye in the middle of their palms to creatures made of ink that can take any shape they like.

Secrets passageways in a creepy old house, revelations about the grandmother they thought they knew, and a desperate mission to save th
This book doesn't break any new ground, and though it's not bad, it's not incredible either. The plot is predictable, and it resolves too quickly and neatly to make it really believable.
It's a creepier telling of several fantasy stereotypes remixed. The human characters are also the usual suspects...the middle-grade-aged girl, her annoying brother, her clueless parents, and a mysterious ancestor. The plot too: Relatives passing down mysterious objects, doorways into other worlds, transformation
I wanted to like this book. I really did.
But I didn't.

I think the concepts and the creative characters were awesome.

What I didn't like was all the back and forth. The plot was interesting - sort of. But I got tired of it about 2/3 way through the book. By that time, reading the book felt like solving the riddle about the man, a fox, a chicken, and corn.

Not sure if anyone will feel this way. Maybe it's just me.

Props to the author for creating interesting characters though.
Gabrielle Mohos
This book was not a good book. It was very scary and after I read it I had trouble falling asleep at night. I do not like how they made the black cat mean. Just because the cat was black, that doesn't mean it is mean. After the cat, it was very easy to tell who was good and who was bad. The author copied the story of Alice In Wonderland and Coraline and made a very creepy story. I think this was one of the authors first books because it had no point, made no sense at all, did not explain things ...more
Pat (Get Kids to Read) Tierney
Behind the Bookcase by Mark Steensland has a very interesting looking cover and an interesting premise. A trip to a magical world behind a bookcase. With similarities to Alice in Wonderland or Coraline the book is complemented by Edward Gorey Esque illustrations.

Sarah moves into her Grandmothers house. The house is very spooky and when Sarah finds a letter saying something is happening behind the bookcase. She finds a magical world and the adventure begins. By the end of the story there are hin
Tara was okay. I'm not a huge fantasy reader so it's really got to have something that is a wow factor to pull me in. While I like the premise of a secret world, a new 'spooky' home, a misunderstood, secretive grandmother and a brave, determined girl, I couldn't grab hold of anything to keep me excited. For me, it was too easy for the kids to be taken advantage of and too much of the story was explained through the characters. I would have loved to see the mystery develop at a slower pace, b ...more
I was so looking forward to this book. Any story with secret passages behind bookcases has the potential to be awesome, sadly, this book just wasn't. Simply put, the story was rushed and severely underdeveloped. There were too many holes and very little made any sense. The ending was also dreadful. It was both too easy and too unresolved at the same time. Super bummed by this one.
Things are not as they seem.

Sarah's family is living in her recently deceased grandmother's house in order to settle the estate when Sarah discovers an unfinished letter to her from her grandma which piques her curiosity and points her in the direction of the bookcase in her bedroom. Her curiosity outweighing her fears, Sarah investigates behind the bookcase. Discovering a shadowy world with a talking cat and strange creatures is only the beginning of this adventure in which Sarah will need help
The Books of Elsewhere meet Dante's Inferno with a dash of Lion, Witch & the Wardrobe-- Sarah's grandmother dies, and the family goes to sort out the house to sell it. Sarah soon discovers her Grandmother was not deluded and creepy, as her mother feels, but a gatekeeper of the dead, sending them to purgatory (Penumbra, in the basement)) until they're sorted into heaven (Ormaz) or hell (Scotopia) which exist between matching bookcases. Sarah's first foray behind the bookcase leads to her meet ...more
What a wonderful place to live in?
realy good the first time
I wanted to like this more than I did. The concept has great potential, but the dialogue felt flat--particularly towards the end where the plot was getting rather intense. And, while I love some good bizarre elements, the random characters were almost too bizarre. The plot certainly had its outlandish moments as well. It's good creepy fun, and will find a solid middle grades audience, I have no doubt. I'm sure the author's next book will be a bit more polished, and then he'll be a force to recko ...more
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Mark Steensland was born and raised in California. He self-published his first book while in fourth grade, and has been telling stories ever since -- some of them true. He became a professional journalist at the age of 18, writing about movies for such magazines as "Prevue" and "American Cinematographer." He has also written, directed, and produced numerous award-winning films that have played in ...more
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