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Something Upstairs
Scholastic, 2010
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Something Upstairs

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. He was wearing what appeared to be a long black cape which reached his knees, and a hat, triangular in shape. Its brim obscured his face.

As if suddenly realizing he was being observed, the man moved quickly into the shadows. Keeping his face averted, he fled up the street.

Behind the Book

Avi writes: This is the first of my three interconnected Providence (Rhode Island) tales. Like the hero of the novel, I had just moved from Los Angeles (a new city) to an old city, Providence, Rhode Island. What’s more, I moved into the house on 30 Sheldon Street, which had been built in the 1830s. It was like going back in time. In fact, the house in the story is the house I used in the book. Many people ask if Kenny (the book’s main character) really told me this story—as per the first chapter—which is to say, is this a true story? My answer is, it’s true if you believe in time travel and ghosts. As for me, I don’t believe in ghosts, but I do believe in ghost stories.

Awards and Honors

YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 1999
Rhode Island Award, 1991
Florida Sunshine Award, 1992
California Young Readers Award, 1993
ALA Notable Recording, 1992 (Recorded Books, Inc.)
Best Books of the Year, Library of Congress, 1989
Nominated, Best Juvenile Mystery of the Year, Mystery Writers of America, 1989


Something Upstairs is an intelligent and well-intentioned effort. It can provoke discussion of the issues … as well as how, finally, violence visits the lives of both Caleb and Kenny and how Kenny, through choice and circumstance, may have become a slave himself.” (School Library Journal)

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