Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 12
- Grade: 4 to 7
- Reading age: 9 to 12
Beware The Other …
Alex is the loneliest boy at school. Not only are his parents away (again), but his beloved cat is missing. Plus, one morning his reflection in the haunted bathroom mirror at school starts talking to him. Then two mysterious strangers in overcoats and sunglasses appear, whispering the same message, over and over: Beware The Other.…
But, worse than all that, is the girl with the braid. She looks just like Alex. She’s better than him at everything, and they even share the same name. Soon, she’s the only Alex anyone can see, at school, at work, even at home. In no time, it’s almost as though the real Alex never existed at all.
Can the real Alex outsmart his evil twin and get his life back before she replaces him for good? And, more importantly, who is the real Alex, anyway?
About the author
Philippa Dowding is a children’s author, poet, musician and copywriter. She has won many industry awards and has had poetry and short fiction published in journals across North America. Her children’s books have been nominated for numerous literary awards in Canada and abroad, including the SYRCA Diamond Willow, OLA Silver Birch, OLA Red Maple, Hackmatack and White Raven awards. In 2017, Myles and the Monster Outside was an OLA Silver Birch Express Honour Book and her 2021 novel, Firefly, won a Governor General’s Literary Award in the Children’s Literature – Text category. Philippa Dowding currently lives in Toronto, Ontario.
Excerpt: Alex and The Other: Weird Stories Gone Wrong (by (author) Philippa Dowding)
THIS PART IS (MOSTLY) TRUE
You should know, before you even start this book, that it’s a little scary. And parts of it are even a bit weird and strange. I wish I could make the story less scary and strange, but this is the way I heard it, so I really have no choice.
It starts like this:
A long time ago, an old farmer woke in the middle of the night, to the sound of his pigs.
They were screaming out in the pigpen.
Now, if you’ve never heard a pig scream, you’re lucky. They sound like, well “other-worldly,” might be the best word for what they sound like. It makes your hair stand up.
The old farmer looked out his bedroom window, and the pigs were going crazy. The piglets rammed into the fence again and again, and their mother, the old sow, tried to dig her way out of the pigpen (something that had never occurred to her before).
“Darn coyotes again,” the old farmer said. The pigs never liked coyotes. With good reason.
The old farmer grabbed his boots and ran into the winter night. He burst out the kitchen door, tramped across the crunchy snow …
… and stopped dead.
His pigs fell silent. They stood perfectly still and looked at him. Which was a bit unnerving.
A strange green fog swirled around them, like a swamp gas or a mysterious vapour. The moon was up and shone on the snow and on the pigs staring at the farmer.
“What the …?” The old farmer moved closer to get a better look and stopped again. At the edge of the green fog, two tall strangers in long overcoats stood beside the fence. Definitely not coyotes.
The strangers stood perfectly still. And watched him.
Just like the pigs.
The silent pigs and the tall figures stared at him in the eerie green fog and the moonlit silence. The farmer suddenly felt very exposed.
“Who are you? What are you doing to my pigs?” he called out. The weird fog swirled, and a green finger of fog stretched toward him.
There was no answer. He called again. “What do you want with my pigs?”
The wind blew, the green fog stretched across the ground toward him …
… and a strange voice answered, “We seek The Other.”
The old farmer swallowed hard. The voice! The voice was nothing like he’d ever heard before. A squeal. A rasp. A grunt. It made his hair stand up.
“What’s that? What’s The Other? What do you mean?” He tried to get a better look at the tall strangers, but they were shrouded in the green fog. The pigs turned and looked at the strangers as though they were waiting for an answer, too.
“Beware The Other,” the awful voice said. It sounded … exactly … like a pig might if it decided to start talking to you. The farmer swallowed again.
“Who are you?” he called.
But as he watched, the strangers turned and vanished into the foggy trees.
Every piggy eye in the pigpen turned to look at the old farmer. A distinctly piggy voice said, “They’ll be back.”
Which was when the farmer turned, ran back into the house, and jumped under his bed. It took his wife a long time to coax him out. The next day a FOR SALE sign was on the farm and the old farmer never, ever spoke about that night again, not to anyone. The pigs were sold to a farmer down the lane. The odd thing was (although, really, what part of this story isn’t odd?), when it came time to count and sell them, there were two piglets missing. And then there weren’t. A little while later, they turned up again.
Who ever heard of a weird green fog that made pigs panic? Or vanish and reappear? Or talk, for that matter?
But every once in a while, in that time and place, a strange story popped up about a green fog that swirled across a winter barnyard and panicked the pigs. The story usually included a missing pig or two and mysterious, tall strangers looking for something, but no one was quite sure what it was.
It’s weird, I know, but as you’ve likely heard somewhere, sometimes truth can be stranger than fiction. Which you’re about to find out.
You don’t have to believe this story. But just because things are odd or a little strange or unbelievable doesn’t always make them untrue. Truth is an odd thing; one person’s truth can be another person’s lie. That’s the most important thing to remember about this story: sometimes things that seem like lies are actually true. And sometimes you never can tell.
That’s the spookiest thing of all.
An engaging read for middle school grades... creepy with cute illustrations, and a true life lesson to be yourself.
Thoughts from Irene
A fun and fast-paced tale that fans of spooky stories will enjoy.
Your Homeschool Librarian
Filled with heart-stopping pauses, thrilling psychological twists … a gripping page-turner.
Recently Read blog
Other titles by Philippa Dowding
Weird Stories Gone Wrong 6-Book Bundle
Carter and the Curious Maze / Myles and the Monster Outside / Jake and the Giant Hand / and 3 others
Quinn and the Quiet, Quiet
Weird Stories Gone Wrong
Weird Stories Gone Wrong 5-Book Bundle
Carter and the Curious Maze / Myles and the Monster Outside / Jake and the Giant Hand / Alex and The Other / Blackwells and the Briny Deep
Blackwells and the Briny Deep
Weird Stories Gone Wrong
Everton Miles Is Stranger Than Me Classroom Activity Guide
Dundurn Teachers' Guide
The Night Flyer's Handbook 2-Book Bundle
The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden / Everton Miles Is Stranger Than Me
Everton Miles Is Stranger Than Me
The Night Flyer's Handbook