Spooked! by Gail Jarrow | SLJ Review

Gr 7 Up –With a succinct and engaging story, Jarrow informs readers about the 1938 The War of the Worlds broadcast and why it became so famous.

redstarJARROW, Gail. Spooked!: How a Radio Broadcast and the War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America. 144p. bibliog. chron. index. notes. photos. reprods. websites. Calkins Creek. Aug. 2018. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781629797762.

Gr 7 Up –With a succinct and engaging story, Jarrow informs readers about the 1938 The War of the Worlds broadcast and why it became so famous. Opening on Halloween Eve, with details about the geopolitical tensions and the growing influence of radio, Jarrow contextualizes the climate in which the program aired. By using short chapters, varied font sizes, quotes, photographs, and illustrations from the source material—H.G. Wells’s novel—she keeps readers involved in the fact-packed story. The chapter on the live broadcast is masterfully written in a style similar to an annotated transcript, with unobtrusive interjections that reveal clues for listeners that the radio show is a fictional narrative. The unvarnished profiles of the major contributors to the production humanize them, and it is illuminating to see the efforts of the team, which included two women. Jarrow effectively uses full-page spreads with excerpts of letters written to the Federal Communications Commission and Orson Welles that communicate the divided reactions to the broadcast. A discussion of the show’s legacy, journalism, and noted hoaxes allows readers to evaluate current events in light of this notorious event. Jarrow concludes with a well-organized list of online resources. VERDICT A skillfully written title that deserves space in middle and high school libraries.–Hilary Writt, Sullivan University, Lexington, KY

This review was published in the School Library Journal June 2018 issue.

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