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Something Upstairs

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  2,098 Ratings  ·  216 Reviews
Avi's haunting ghost story is available for the first time as a Scholastic paperback!

When 12-year-old Kenny Huldorf moves to Providence, Rhode Island, he soon discovers that his attic bedroom is haunted by the ghost of a teenage slave named Caleb. Before long, Caleb summons Kenny back in time, where Kenny finds himself entangled in Caleb's murder and deeply troubled by the
Paperback, 208 pages
Published July 1st 2010 by Scholastic Press (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)
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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
Mar 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read with my class- suitable for 4-8 depending upon the reading level. This book really hooks kids!
Amanda Cowher
Sep 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book back in 1993, and it at the time was one of the spookiest books I had ever read.
Katie Nagy
I think this book was okay. It wasn't my favorite book I have ever read but it wasn't the worst. The main character, Kenny, is a brave character. He was brave and went back in time to save someone who needed help. He also is kind because he was willing to help although it wasn't safe. I recommend this book to someone who likes history and adventure.
Jul 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Listened to the audio book. It was ok.
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy books by Avi like the Man Who Would Be Poe or Charlotte Doyle. He had a nice method for telling this story interposing himself into it as the listener to a young kid's tale. It concerns Providence 200 years ago, a murder, slavery etc. Quick, easy and entertaining.
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Something upstairs

Do you like good scary books about ghosts? If you like a good book this is the one for you. It has a pinch of creepiness and a lot of nervousness. Towards the end it gets exciting because you just want to find out what happens so bad. It just leaves you off on a cliff hanger. This is what it's about.
This book is about a boy named Kenny and his new friend Caleb. Kenny just moved into a new house with his family. He gets the whole attic to himself and he's so excited. But as
Jonathan Gonzalez
SPOILER ALERT-A kid moved into a little town and a little old smelly dirty house. As he is sleeping one day across the hall he hears a loud boom and he goes to the room and he went inside the room and seen a ghost it was a little white ghost. The genre of the story is Mystery. When he seen the ghost I was in shock I didn't see that coming. I think that this book was very suprising and gave me chills when the ghost came into the story.

He went to sleep again and the next night he went back into th
Feb 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Travis Unterseher
Oct 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lit-for-children
Brief Review:
This book is a historical fiction book. The book also has elements of mystery, ghosts and time travel back to the 1800's. I think students (kids) would really like this book because it has many different parts that are able to grab the interest of a large diverse group of students. The book seems to be written for 5-6 grade kids that are close to the same age as the main character in the book.

Content Area:
I would use this book in the content area of history. I would do this by ha
Atsumi Kihara
May 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mya Rivera
Dec 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was eerily good. My cousin had to read it for her summer reading for school and when she explained the premise of the book to me, I thought it surely can’t be true because the book states that it’s based on a true story.

I believe in ghosts, but ghosts being able to actually talk to you instead of send signs and miracles as well as going back in time, seem a little far-fetched.

Yet, my interest was piqued and I read the 140-page book in one sitting.

The characters were interesting as Kenn
Grecia Flores
Sep 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
***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
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
Dec 27, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
Back home reading my old books. I must have read this short young adult book at least 8-10 times. It's about a white kid from LA who moves to Providence, Rhode Island and finds a ghost who died a slave in his attic. He promises the ghost Caleb that he will find his murderer and free him from the little room in the attic. I wasn't sure whether I would like this book as an adult, but it's actually pretty cool. The villain is an old white historian who moves between the past and the present, contro ...more
Faith Tydings
Nov 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the historical aspects of this book. It was very well written, enjoyable to read and had a very satisfying ending.
Kevin Summers
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grades
Sample quote: "'Some memories fade. Others are forgotten. The bitter ones become ghosts in search of an altered past.'"
Cynthia Egbert
Mar 10, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up at a library used book sale. I read the blurb that it had a ghost in it and that's what I like. I have never read anything by him and also didn't know at the time that it was for a young adult. With all that being said, I must say I really enjoyed it. it was a well written mystery,but towards the end it had some confusing areas and the ending could have been different. all in all I was glad I got it and read it.
Edward G. Madsen
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adolescent-lit
An excellent mystery to introduce students to the issues around slavery in the North during the time of the American Revolution. Students were riveted to the book and couldn't wait to read it every day.
Emma 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
Angie Fehl
Sep 23, 2014 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
Dec 30, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mommy-s-shelf
This book was recommended to me by my twelve year old A, she had read it in school and knew I was looking for something short and sweet to round out my reading goal for the year. I enjoyed it. 3.5 stars. It reminded me a lot of The Ghost of Emma Louise (first chapter book I ever read) in that a kid meets a ghost and then they have to solve a mystery/problem together. But I didn't like this one quite as much as Emma Louise.

page 21, He learned..."how the people of Rhose Island didn't approve of t
Louis Florian
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
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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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