About the Author

Philippa Dowding

Philippa wrote her first novel when she was nine. She burned it, then immediately wished she hadn’t. This unfortunate early episode made her realize that writing was a gift, and that all writing can be rescued from the fire, so to speak, with effort and hard work. Philippa was born in England, and came to Canada with her family in the mid-60s., settling in Oakville, Ontario. At university she studied English and Literature, first at the University of Western Ontario, then at the University of Toronto. She emerged with a Master of Arts degree, and a burning desire to write, which is why she became a professional copywriter. She worked through the 1990s as Senior Copywriter and Creative Manager for Maclean Hunter and Rogers Publishing. In 2000, she struck out on her own as a freelance copywriter, a job she continues to love today. Her clients include magazine publishers, fundraisers, advertising agencies, NGOs, movie producers, website owners and others. Her work has won several industry awards for magazines as varied as Maclean’s, Chatelaine, Today’s Parent and The Beaver.

Books by this Author
Alex and The Other

Alex and The Other

Weird Stories Gone Wrong
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
More Info
Excerpt

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.

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Blackwells and the Briny Deep

Blackwells and the Briny Deep

Weird Stories Gone Wrong
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
More Info
Excerpt

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, (which by the way, is pretty much exactly how every sea story worth telling begins):

One summer evening a long time ago, two brothers were fishing by the sea. It was quiet, peaceful twilight. Not a breath stirred, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, the water was still and calm. Candles were lit in homes that dotted the bay. The lights in the harbour shone, and the lighthouse would soon be lit, too, as darkness fell.

The fish weren’t biting, but that’s not really here nor there in this particular story.

But it does explain why the younger brother was daydreaming. He sat on the wooden dock and stared out at the peach and golden waves, as the sun sank upon them.

He closed his eyes and dreamed about mermaids and pirates, enchanted islands and sea adventures, and what it might be like to go to sea as a cabin boy (since this was in the days of such things). A seagull’s cry made him open his eyes …

… and there, on the horizon!

An enormous black ship!

It had NOT been there a moment before.

The sails were tattered and torn. Thin, ragged sailors ran along the deck. The sailboat heaved and bucked through gigantic waves. Crested plumes of spray flew from its bow.

Then, a curl of smoke. The ship was on FIRE!

The boy shielded his eyes, and stared. The fiery ship sailed full force into the teeth of a terrible storm …

… except there was no storm. The sea was calm, the sky was clear. But there it was. A burning ship, fighting a storm in high seas.

“LOOK! Out to sea!” The boy called to his older brother, who at that very moment hooked a fish, their first and only hope of dinner.

“Do you see it? A ship on FIRE!”

“Quiet! There’ll be no dinner if I don’t catch this fish!” the older brother snapped. His mother had told them not to come home empty-handed.

“But look! It’s a ship in distress!”

The giant ship leaned to one side. The flames spread quickly, soon the whole ship would be on fire …

It’s so close, but I can’t hear the men’s cries, the boy thought. And I don’t smell smoke!

The burning ship drew close to shore. A terrifying wooden figurehead stared from the bow: it was half woman, half sea monster!

The name of the ship was carved beside the figurehead: The Mermaid Queen.

“We have to call the men!” The boy grabbed his brother’s arm, and the fish jumped free of the hook.

“You made me lose dinner!” The older brother glared.

“But it’s right …”

When the younger brother turned back, the fiery ship was gone!

“But … where did it go? I’m telling you, it was right there! A ship on fire in a storm! Going down with all hands!” The older brother marched toward home. But the younger brother stared, rubbed his eyes, and scanned the horizon.

The Mermaid Queen had vanished.

Like it had never been there at all.

The only movement on the water was a dolphin. It leapt high into the air then dove beneath the waves.

Now a storm roiled on the horizon. In moments, big dark clouds filled the sky and rain lashed the houses, docks, and boats at anchor in the harbour.

The boy sat in the rain all night, looking out to sea. His mother couldn’t convince him to come in for soup (since his brother never did catch a fish) or for bed. She finally gave up and put a rain cape over her son’s shoulders.

He watched all night, until the storm blew away and mild dawn broke over the water. He watched until seagulls flew past to begin their day at sea. But The Mermaid Queen didn’t reappear. There was no flotsam — no wood, no sail cloth, nothing from a shipwreck — washed into shore the next day, either.

Finally the next morning, as the sun rose, an old sailor limped along the dock. He stopped in front of the waterlogged boy and balanced on his wooden leg (for this was in the days of such things, too).

“It was a phantom ship, son. A ghost ship. Destined to sail the seas, forever on fire and forever sinking, for all time. Those who see one at sea are in grave danger,” the sailor said. This particular sailor was full of strange sea stories about dolphins that turned into boys, sea spirits, enchanted islands, shipwreck graveyards, and so on.

Most people avoided him. Or thought he’d spent too much time alone at sea and gone a little odd. But after seeing the burning ship, the boy wasn’t so sure.

Time passed, and not surprisingly, perhaps, the boy never did go to sea. In fact, he became a respected lawyer. He stayed very comfortably on dry land into old age, which he spent among his many children and grandchildren.

He was definitely NOT given to telling stories (as a lawyer, that wouldn’t do). But on certain summer nights, when the sun was sinking just so, his family might find him staring out to sea and murmuring: The Mermaid Queen, The Mermaid Queen

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.

 

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Carter and the Curious Maze
Excerpt

The mummy howled.

Carter yawned.

The skeleton rattled.

Carter sneezed.

The ghost flapped in his face.

Carter rolled his eyes.

He had to face it: the haunted house at the fair just wasn’t scary anymore.

It used to be scary when he was a little kid. Even last year, when he was eleven, it was still a little creepy. But this year?

No chills, no goosebumps, no shrieks, nothing. The only thing Carter noticed was that the pop-up crypt keeper had a broken spring sticking out of his head, and the floating ghost was covered in a thick layer of dust. Plus, there was a bored-looking man standing behind the curtain near the end of the ride, beside a red button that said, “In Case of Emergency, Push to STOP.”

What emergency? Carter thought. Not even a little kid would be scared by this boring ride!

The haunted house ride ended, and Carter climbed out of the rolling car. He pushed past the bored fair worker and shoved his way through the crowd into the bright sunshine. It was weird out in the noisy midway after the dark of the haunted house.

Carter scanned the crowd and found his older sister, Sydney, but frankly, she would have been hard to miss. She was wearing a ridiculous red hat with googly eyes and long, red tentacles.

“What the heck is that thing?” Carter asked as he joined her. It was the weirdest hat he’d ever seen.

“It’s a squid hat,” Sydney answered, pleased. “I won it. Over there.” She pointed at a tent with stripes on it under an old tree. “While you were in the haunted house,” she added.

“Take it off, you look strange,” Carter said. Everything about the fair suddenly seemed strange. His once-favourite haunted house. And now the weirdest hat in the world.

And there were more things that suddenly didn’t seem so fun. For one thing, it was too hot. And for another, it was too loud. He’d never noticed how loud and hot the fair was before. Plus the placed smelled. The air was full of the reek of fried food and garbage.

Yep … that’s garbage, all right.

Carter and Sydney walked out of the noisy, hot midway and bought ice cream cones. They sat on a picnic bench near the lake beside an enormous grey rock.

The water lay perfectly still against the pebbles on the shore. It looked pretty, but the water smelled like goose poop, which Carter had never noticed before. A few sailboats bobbed in the lake, but there was no wind. It was too hot and still, even for the sailboats.

Carter looked up at the huge grey rock beside them. It stood above his head, above his arms, stretched out. It looked very old and was covered with moss and deep scratches near the top. He finished his ice cream and studied the huge rock.

I’m so bored, I’m studying rocks! I have to get out of here!

“Come on, Sydney, let’s go find Mom,” he begged. “I’m dying of boredom! This place is dull. Nothing interesting has ever happened here in the history of the world. Let’s go!”

“It’s not boring, and Mom’s not meeting us at the parking lot for a little while, Carter. What’s wrong with you? There’s still so much to see.” Sydney marched away. Carter sighed and followed her past the tents and midway rides.

Then he stopped.

Someone was watching him. Across the grass beside a tall tree, a stranger waved and beckoned. Carter was too far away to tell if the man – because it looked like a very small man in a long green smock – was definitely waving at him or someone else. Carter slowly raised his hand and cautiously waved back.

The man waved again, more urgently this time.

Carter looked around to see if the person was waving at someone behind him, but no, he was alone. How odd. Who could that be? He didn’t know anyone else at the fair. Carter realized that Sydney was getting farther away; her red hat bounced in the distance.

He ran to catch up with his sister, looking over his shoulder once more … but the stranger in the green smock was gone.

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Everton Miles Is Stranger Than Me
Excerpt

I’m flying.
It’s 3:00 a.m.
I glide, effortless, over the rooftops and church spires of my little town. I float over the park that Jez and I meet at when we sneak out at night. The empty swings creak in the gentle last-night-of-summer breeze. I drift over the wooded lot next to the park then float slowly above empty streets. The backyards, driveways, and rooftops pass below me like a miniature village, a child’s play-world.
Past the library, then I drift lazily over The Float Boat, the only candy store in town. Mrs. Forest, my Mentor, and her husband are tucked up inside, cozy against the night. My school, Bass Creek Senior Public School, drifts below me.
Correction. My OLD school. Tomorrow, I start high school at the big building further down the street.
No. I’m not flying over the high school tonight. Tomorrow will come soon enough.
So I pick up speed. I’m still not great at flying, to be honest, but I can finally go where I want, although I may never get the hang of landing. The fence tops and tree limbs float below me until I reach the last street in town. I hover and look out over the September cornfields toward the distant woods.
There’s a solitary cabin at the edge of the forest. It belongs to Mr. McGillies, a local hermit, the old bottle collector who has sworn an oath to be my Watcher when I’m out flying. The truth is he saved my life recently, and I don’t know how to thank him. I’ve been drawn to this spot all summer, watching the shape of his dark cabin against the forest as I bob above the corn like a weather balloon.
Tonight though, something is different.
I gaze past his cabin, past the trees, out toward the glow of faraway city lights. Somewhere out there the oldest trees stand. Somewhere out there the Spirit Flyers wait, starshot immortals, guardians of light and air.
Then something flashes in the muddy laneway below me.
A small lost thing lies face-up in the mud. I drop and hover above the road to investigate. It’s a tiny figure, a doll made of corn stalks. It stares up at me with bright glass beads for eyes.
This is odd. Who would put a doll in the laneway like this? What child would have visited Mr. McGillies and lost it? None, since he never has visitors as far as I know. With one hand I clasp my father’s golden feather on my mother’s chain around my neck. With the other I reach down to touch the doll, but then I swear the corn rustles next to me and a voice whispers: Gwendolyn.
I zoom up above the corn.
Gwendolyn.
The corn has never whispered to me before. Then a lone figure steps out of the field onto the muddy lane. It hesitates then takes a step toward me. A dark figure with glowing golden eyes.
And wings.
Gwendolyn.
I streak home and dive into my bed.
I don’t know what I just saw, but I do know this: from somewhere out there, a darkness is coming.
And it’s calling my name.

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Everton Miles Is Stranger Than Me Classroom Activity Guide
Excerpt

I’m flying.
It’s 3:00 a.m.
I glide, effortless, over the rooftops and church spires of my little town. I float over the park that Jez and I meet at when we sneak out at night. The empty swings creak in the gentle last-night-of-summer breeze. I drift over the wooded lot next to the park then float slowly above empty streets. The backyards, driveways, and rooftops pass below me like a miniature village, a child’s play-world.
Past the library, then I drift lazily over The Float Boat, the only candy store in town. Mrs. Forest, my Mentor, and her husband are tucked up inside, cozy against the night. My school, Bass Creek Senior Public School, drifts below me.
Correction. My OLD school. Tomorrow, I start high school at the big building further down the street.
No. I’m not flying over the high school tonight. Tomorrow will come soon enough.
So I pick up speed. I’m still not great at flying, to be honest, but I can finally go where I want, although I may never get the hang of landing. The fence tops and tree limbs float below me until I reach the last street in town. I hover and look out over the September cornfields toward the distant woods.
There’s a solitary cabin at the edge of the forest. It belongs to Mr. McGillies, a local hermit, the old bottle collector who has sworn an oath to be my Watcher when I’m out flying. The truth is he saved my life recently, and I don’t know how to thank him. I’ve been drawn to this spot all summer, watching the shape of his dark cabin against the forest as I bob above the corn like a weather balloon.
Tonight though, something is different.
I gaze past his cabin, past the trees, out toward the glow of faraway city lights. Somewhere out there the oldest trees stand. Somewhere out there the Spirit Flyers wait, starshot immortals, guardians of light and air.
Then something flashes in the muddy laneway below me.
A small lost thing lies face-up in the mud. I drop and hover above the road to investigate. It’s a tiny figure, a doll made of corn stalks. It stares up at me with bright glass beads for eyes.
This is odd. Who would put a doll in the laneway like this? What child would have visited Mr. McGillies and lost it? None, since he never has visitors as far as I know. With one hand I clasp my father’s golden feather on my mother’s chain around my neck. With the other I reach down to touch the doll, but then I swear the corn rustles next to me and a voice whispers: Gwendolyn.
I zoom up above the corn.
Gwendolyn.
The corn has never whispered to me before. Then a lone figure steps out of the field onto the muddy lane. It hesitates then takes a step toward me. A dark figure with glowing golden eyes.
And wings.
Gwendolyn.
I streak home and dive into my bed.
I don’t know what I just saw, but I do know this: from somewhere out there, a darkness is coming.
And it’s calling my name.

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Quinn and the Quiet, Quiet

Quinn and the Quiet, Quiet

Weird Stories Gone Wrong
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
More Info
Excerpt

Chapter One: Citizen Child QF12P

Tromp. Trod. Tromp.

Quinn trudged, last in the line of Citizen Child workers from BunkHouse-47A. The snow lashed his face. The wind blew from the mountain and chilled him through his thin blue overalls.

In the distance he heard the thud-thud-thud of machines at the Work Centre.

Smoke from the Work Centre filled the air and mixed with the snow that whirled past. In the distance, the huge, shimmering blue glacier hung between the mountaintops and crept down to the edge of the valley.

Quinn stared at the back of the boy ahead of him. He didn’t know his name — Quinn hadn’t really met anyone yet — but the boy had a long, thin face.

Tromp. Trod. Tromp.

The Work Van cleared snow from the road ahead. The engine roared, gears shrieked, treads squealed on the ice.

It will never be quiet again, Quinn thought.

On the side of the Work Van, a picture of a child smiled down. Below the smiling child were the words Citizen Child Blue Brick™ is BEST!

In fact, there were pictures of Citizen Child everywhere. Painted on the side of buildings. Staring from billboards high above. Even stitched as a patch onto the shirt of every child from BunkHouse-47A.

Quinn still hadn’t been there long enough to get used to the weird, smiling face of Citizen Child. He tried not to look at it.

Stunted trees tossed in the sharp wind; snow whirled past. The children trudged along.

BLEEEEEET!

BLEEEEEET!

An alarm whistle.

Everyone stopped. Quinn tried not to bump into the long-faced boy ahead of him.

What now? Oh, Cavers.

A group of teenagers walked single file through the driving snow toward Quinn and the others in line. The teenagers wore orange overalls that were covered in blue dust from the caves in the mine. Blue dust lined the creases in their eyelids and their ears, clung to their lips. Blue dust fell from them into their footprints in the snow.

The last of the Cavers walked past. The alarm whistle stopped. The line moved forward.

Quinn took a step. Then, suddenly … a Caver slipped into line behind him!

A girl.

“Shhhh,” she whispered.

Quinn gasped. She was a Caver. She wore orange overalls, not blue ones!

“What are you doing? ” he whispered over his shoulder. “They’ll see you! ”

The Caver kept her head down. Thick braids swept over her blue-dusted cheeks.

“Don’t worry! ” Her Citizen Child patch showed her identity number: CU15C. “I’m Clem Usher, 15, Caver. They won’t see me!”

“Clem who? ”

But she didn’t answer. Instead, she did an odd thing: she snatched off her glove, then snapped her fingers. For a second, a tiny blue spark flickered in the air above her hand, then went out.

Quinn gasped again. How’d she do that?

Clem Usher whispered in his ear. “Tell the NewBlues I’m gone! Wish me luck!”

NewBlues?

She crouched low, looked around … then dashed behind the Work Van.

A moment later, Quinn watched her run into the snowstorm. For a second, a strange blue shimmer shook the snowy air around her.

What was THAT?

Quinn shook his head and blinked a few times. I could NOT have just seen a BLUE CLOUD swallow her up! I must be going crazy!

Quinn was the only one who had seen Clem Usher run away.

Or so he thought.

BLEEEET! BLEEEET!

The alarm whistles again! The Citizen Child workers halted and stood silently, heads down against the blowing snow. The Work Van stopped and two Officers jumped out. They strapped on short skis and chased after Clem Usher.

Skush, skush, skush.

Then Quinn’s heart almost stopped.

A huge metallic leg unfolded from the Van. A second leg followed. A third.

CLICK. CLICK. CLICK.

A Work Bot stepped onto the snow.

CLICK. CLICK. CLICK.

Taller than the Van, the Work Bot had a huge, square body. From its metal head shone a bright orange beam of light. The Work Bot tested the snowy surface with its three legs.

CLICK. CLICK. CLICK.

Each leg ended in a metal claw for gripping ice and snow.

Run, Clem Usher! Quinn thought.

The Work Bot turned and ran after the Officers.

CLICK. CLICK. CLICK.

Then … an Officer stepped slowly out of the Work Van. He had the letter “C” on his chest: the Commander.

Quinn stared at his feet. The Commander walked along the line of children and stopped in front of Quinn.

“Identity!” the Commander barked. All Officers wore masks to block the blue dust, so the Commander’s voice was strangely muffled.

“Q-Quinn Fleet, 12, Packager. ”

“PROPER identity! ”

“QF12P, ” Quinn said.

The other children from BunkHouse-47A shivered in their thin clothes. No one wanted to look at Quinn.

“Well, QF12P, who was that Citizen Child? The Caver you just helped run away? ” The Commander pointed after Clem Usher.

Quinn swallowed.

“I–I don’t know who that was. And … and I didn’t help them run away! ”

“No? Then why did she hide behind you? ”

“Because I was last in line? ”

The Commander shook his head. “Come with me, QF12P. ”

The Commander yanked Quinn out of line. The last thing he saw was the long face of the boy ahead of him.

The boy stared at Quinn for a moment.

Then, in the next second, he ripped off a glove.

The boy snapped his fingers.

A tiny blue spark lifted into the air!

That blue spark again! How do they do that? The Commander shoved Quinn into the dark Work Van. The door slammed shut.

And Quinn Fleet, 12, Packager, was all alone in the dark.

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The Lost Gargoyle Series 3-Book Bundle

The Lost Gargoyle Series 3-Book Bundle

The Gargoyle in My Yard / The Gargoyle at the Gates / The Gargoyle Overhead
edition:eBook
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The Night Flyer's Handbook 2-Book Bundle

The Night Flyer's Handbook 2-Book Bundle

The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden / Everton Miles Is Stranger Than Me
edition:eBook
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Weird Stories Gone Wrong 2-Book Bundle

Weird Stories Gone Wrong 2-Book Bundle

Jake and the Giant Hand / Myles and the Monster Outside
edition:eBook
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Weird Stories Gone Wrong 3-Book Bundle

Weird Stories Gone Wrong 3-Book Bundle

Carter and the Curious Maze / Myles and the Monster Outside / Jake and the Giant Hand
edition:eBook
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Weird Stories Gone Wrong 5-Book Bundle

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
edition:eBook
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Weird Stories Gone Wrong 6-Book Bundle

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
edition:eBook
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