Cover Image: 1-2-3-4, I Declare a Thumb War

1-2-3-4, I Declare a Thumb War

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Member Reviews

I've been a big fan of Lisi Harrison since her clique days and was totally excited to get my hands on this first Graveyard Girls novel to read and review. Middle grade spooky stories are hot right now in my K-6 library and I can't wait to add this to our shelves as soon as possible. Harrison and Kraus have created an enjoyable group of girls who excite and terrify their readers in the best way.
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I found this to be a fun blend of scary with a touch of humor.

Ready for a nail-biting legend?
Silas Hoke, a former Marine with a wooden leg, who just happened to be a PE teacher at Misery Falls, was sentenced to death for murdering a student. Legend has it that each year on the anniversary of his electrocution he returns to claim another victim.

Misery Falls draws tourists annually as the town attempts to ward off the evil spirit. And since this is the 100-year anniversary it is even more meaningful.

But this notorious town is also the home of the Grim Sleepers monthly club of middle-grade girls. Friends who meet to share scary tales. However, this particular year the members find themselves doing more than telling stories. They all receive an anonymous note asking them to do something.

This story will keep readers on their toes wondering what will happen next. And the girls, who have rather stereotyped personalities of the smart, sporty, drama queen, and leader, probably won’t disrupt readers.

1-2-3-4, I Declare A Thumb War is the first in a five-book series.

My Final Thoughts

This has the right touch of spookiness, humor, and morals blended together to keep kids reading. And who doesn’t love a group called Grim Sleepers?

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an early copy of the e-book to review.
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I fell in love with Lisi’s writing style in The Pack and Claw & Order. I didn’t realize until doing the blog that Daniel co-authored The Shape of Water. And you wonder why I enjoyed this book? This author pair brought their A-games for this one.
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“Legend has it that every year, on the anniversary of his death, one girl sees a flash of lightning - just like Old Sparky - and hears the thonk-thonk of Hoke’s wooden leg getting closer. Then - poof! She’s never heard from again.”

Sixth graders Whisper, Frannie, Sophie and Gemma are the Grim Sleepers. For the past two years they have had monthly sleepovers where they take turns telling scary stories. In Misery Falls, Oregon, though, the scariest story of all is that of Silas Hoke, the town’s infamous murderer.

Each year, the town hosts Hoke Week, a series of events leading up to the anniversary of his execution. This year, it’s the 100th anniversary since Silas’ death and the “atmosfear” is decidedly spooky.

The first in a new five book series, this was a fun read. The four Grim Sleepers are:

💀 Whisper, the track star. Whisper lives with her father and Miles, her ten year old brother. Unfortunately, Tina, her father’s girlfriend has also moved in and she’s brought Paisley, her daughter, and Rayne, her son, with her. Paisley is one of the popular girls in Whisper’s class. Ugh!

💀 Frannie, the actress. Frannie has twin baby brothers, Sami and Balthazar. She doesn’t want to speak about her falling out with Miranda.

💀 Sophie, the straight A student. Sophie puts an immense amount of pressure on herself to be as good (or better) than Jade, her older sister.

💀 Gemma, the leader. Gemma is the Grim Sleeper who truly believes in the supernatural. Layla, her mother, and Harmony, her aunt, run a metaphysical supplies store called Spirit Sanctuary.

Although she’s not one of the four friends we meet in the beginning of the book, Zuzu quickly became my favourite character. She’s creative and she’s into horror movies. There’s a big part of herself that she keeps hidden and I can’t wait to see her character grow throughout the series. 

Although it’s beyond a cliché at this point to have a friendship group consisting of the leader, the dramatic one, the jock, the smart one and the creative one, middle grade readers likely won’t have come across this too many times yet. Despite the cliché, I liked the girls. They each have their own struggles relating to school or family and being able to read chapters from all of their perspectives helped me to care about what happened to each of them.

I may have missed something but throughout the book Frannie keeps the details of the falling out between her and Miranda a secret from her friends. Later, though, we’re told that the whole school knows the story.

One of the characters plays Camille Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre, which I’d never heard played on the piano before. I’m exhausted and all I did was watch someone else play it.

I’m looking forward to continuing this series.

“I know this town. Its corners. Its alleys. Its hiding spots. Most of all, its dead ends.
And Misery Falls is one giant dead end. Escape is impossible.”

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Union Square Kids, an imprint of Union Square & Co., for the opportunity to read this book.
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Schedules to post 9/17/22.

Okay. This book is totally cute. It's creepy in all the right ways for middle grade and it had those nostalgic feels that I've been looking for in like titles. It hit all the right notes. Plus, I loved the concept behind the thumb war and what that turns out being. So apropos and I cackled a little when I read that part.

I do rather despise the title of the book, though. I like Graveyard Girls, and I think that's the series' name. I hate 1-2-3-4, I Declare a Thumb War. It's clunky and doesn't do the story justice. It's also not indicative of the plot. I feel like the publisher could have come up with a better title there. Something that doesn't sound so sugary sweet and very childish, neither things describe the story.

The pacing of the story was a little weird because of that thumb war story dropping right in the middle of it. Like literally the thumb war story is a story Whisper tells to her group of friends that is not actually relevant to the plot of the story. When she's telling it, the story completely stops, starts this new thumb war story, and then concludes that story and allows the primary story to continue. I don't necessarily dislike it, but I'm not sure I like it either.

I had kind of a hard time keeping all the characters straight, except Zuzu. She stood off on her own well enough. But I often found myself forgetting which POV I was in and who had what details assigned to who. I'm just going to chalk that up to my own head not being able to keep that many details straight.

I loved the ending and the sort of found family the Graveyard Girls end up being, but I also kind of dislike the ending too. This ties into the dedication of the book: to all my future final girls (assuming this didn't change in the final print). Reading that dedication without knowing the ending is actually quite horrifying, and I'm not sure the ending makes it any better. The book kind of tries to redefine what a final girl is, ascribing a more girl power message to it. At the same time it also really glosses over what makes a final girl a final girl: surviving a serial killer and acquiring a shitton of trauma along the way, basically. I get what they're doing, but at the same time, we're ignoring a whole lot of stuff here. Especially in light of what children are required to do in schools (active shooter drills, wear bullet proof backpacks) because mass casualty events have become the norm, calling a bunch of children future final girls is gauche, at the very least.

Storywise, I loved it. It's a great balance of cute and creepy that I would have appreciated as a kid reading this. It's not without its faults, though, that I probably wouldn't have picked up on as that kid reading it.

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1-2-3-4, I Declare a Thumb War, book one of the Grave yard girls follows a group of young horror loving friends navigating the more messy elements of life with a good dose of scares and silly to help them along the way.

What Worked for me
1. Young girls telling each other scary stories as a form of bonding was just a wonderful premise from the start. The Group as a whole also gives me extreme Are you afraid of the dark nostalgia.
2.There is an excellent mystery element to the story as an Unknown individual has summoned the friend group to gather in a local graveyard during the small town's celebration centered on banishing the spirit of a murderer.
3.Messy family dynamics, spiritual matters,small business problems, and complicated ex friendships are shown with compassion and care.
4.I loved the scary story told within the story element.
5.One of the main friend group works in her family's alternative spirituality shop and as a pagan I just love that so much.

What Didn't work as well for me
1. The acting director brought in for one of the main character's acting group pulls a quirky lets change who is acting as the lead move that just feels like a way to artificially increase tension that is already pretty high between two characters.
2.One of the central scary stories relies heavily on a body horror element.  (If that's your jam you are going to love it.)
3.I have to wait for the second book to exist now. Seriously though the ending will leave you screaming for a sequel now. 

Who Do I recommend this story for
1-2-3-4, I Declare a Thumb War is an excellent read for fans of middle grade and children's Lit that are looking for a story reminiscent of the goosebumps era filled with the energy of friendship and girl Power. I am looking forward to future installments of the Graveyard Girls.
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This is a really fun middle grade novel about a group of girls who love spooky stories. They tell each other spooky stories and love in a quiet town that has it's own dark history. 

I loved the atmosphere and I loved having a novel with creepy elements that isn't too dark overall. I like the balance of it relative to the premise, reading level, and theming. The characters are fun and their personal struggles are very interesting. I definitely want to spend some more time with them in another book. I'd read a sequel with no hesitation. I would t call it my favorite book by Lisi Harrison, but it definitely adds a nice change of pace to her collection of works.
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4.5 rounded up to 5/5.

“The world was filled with monsters ready to get you. Some were mutant thumbs. Some were bloodthirsty killers. And some were former best friends.”

MISERY FALLS, OREGON, IS ABUZZ AS the 100th anniversary of the electrocution of the town’s most infamous killer, Silas Hoke, approaches. When a mysterious text message leads the girls to the cemetery—where Silas Hoke is buried!—life can’t get any creepier. Except, yes, it can thanks to the surprise storyteller who meets them at the cemetery, inspires the first-ever meeting of the Graveyard Girls, and sets the stage for a terrifying tale from Whisper that they’ll never forget.

This was a freaky and fun middle grade fantasy/horror novel that I thoroughly enjoyed. Filled with spooks and screams, friendships and festivities this story was jam-packed and didn’t give you a moment to breathe. 

Harrison creates epic and memorable characters in Whisper, Frannie, Sophie, Gemma and Zuzu that ‘any’ young girl could relate to, and deals with themes such as friendship, fitting in, family dynamics, confidence and fear that are great topics for any teenager to read about and relate to. The main question now is… can I become a Graveyard Girl please?
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Definitely an interesting book. I found myself laughing out loud at the beginning of the book. For four girls who love telling spooky stories, they are a bit of scaredy cats, but it’s all part of the fun. The story quickly moves on and is told from alternating POVs that work well. The mystery has a Scooby-Doo-esque feel and discovering how the girls will unravel it was entertaining.

This book is the first in a five-book series, and I think kids between the ages of 10-13 who enjoy spooky stories and being a part of a secret club will like this one.
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Lisi Harrison is a really prolific author, and it’s because she writes pop fiction, which is not necessarily Good Fiction. This book is. Fine. I read a lot of REALLY GOOD middle grade fiction, and this is not REALLY GOOD middle grade fiction. It’s perfectly fine middle grade, and one thing about the Graveyard Girls is that they aren’t the terrifying caricatures of the middle school girls of Harrison’s THE CLIQUE series, but unfortunately they shake out to be Just Perfectly Fine. Readalikes and better recs: CORALINE, SMALL SPACES, SCOOBY-DOO. Three stars.
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Great quick read. I loved the story. Definitely a middle grade story that many youth and emerging readers will enjoy. The vocabulary wasn’t off putting
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I was quite surprised at how dark this was for a middle grade but then again that could be because I never read scary middle grade stories when I was a kid.

While this had a good dose of mystery, scooby-doo-esque to it, and eerie vibes, I found the group of protagonists to be borderline average, themselves and the setting in very cliched schoolgirl environment which was like a wall when trying to read on, I couldn't get past it.

I would recommend this for girls aged 11+ years, who show a liking for Scooby-Doo, Coraline, and City of Ghosts, would definitely take a liking to this.

Thank you to NetGalley and Union Square kids for this eARC in exchange for an honest review
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1-2-3-4, I Declare a Thumb War by Lisi Harrison and Daniel Kraus is a fun, mysterious tale about a group of girls who love to tell spooky tales. This book was such a delight and I really appreciated the multiple points of view. Each of the Graveyard Girls is so different but they work great as a team when they look into the haunting mystery of Silas Hoke. This book is perfect for fans of The Babysitter's Club mixed with Goosebumps. 

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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First up a big big thank you! Secondly, sadly I just couldn't finish this one. I am really sorry. I loved the spooky stories idea and what was coming up next.. but I had hoped for more Monster High and less Wannabe/Alphas/Clique. I liked-ish those books yearsssss ago, but I notice that I don't do that now. I struggled to get through a few chapters (which I always try to give a book). It just felt like a I was reading a spooky edition of the Clique.
Plus, reading a PDF on an ereader.. well that required some work. And the result wasn't pretty. It would be great if PDF were skipped for books with text. Just go for mobi/epub instead. 
So maybe, MAYBE, if I see this in paperform I will give it another shot.
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I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

I want to thank the publisher for letting me have the chance to read this book ahead of release. Once I read the synopsis I knew this would be the perfect tale for me as I love spooky stories and always sought them out when I was younger from the library.

I think this story was a lot of fun. The pacing is great and keeps things interesting while giving us the right amount of detail for our characters and plot. I love how different our main friend group is and how their dynamic works together as the story plays out.

Definitely a fun read for many age groups!
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I received this book for free for an honest review from netgalley #netgalley
 Spooky and cute. Just what I was looking for. I highly recommend.
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