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What We Knew by Barbara Stewart

BEWARE THE BOGEYMAN.

Topics of Interest: social issues, friendship, ghost stories, urban legends, abuse, paranoia, fear

Curriculum Connections: English, Health and Physical Education, Equity Studies

Gender: F/M

Age: 14+

Blurb: Have you ever noticed that there is a wooded area in every scary movie? And no wonder. Woods are downright terrifying, especially at night. I think it has to do with not being able to see a thing…except skeletal branches and animal eyes reflecting in the beams of flashlights. And the full moon. There’s always a full moon.

I don’t believe in the Bogeyman, or monsters, or werewolves per se, but I’m not about to be caught in the woods alone a night. One only has to watch The Blair Witch Project to swear off camping in the woods, ever. No thank you.

The Bogeyman in What We Knew is called the Banana Man, or so the urban legend claims. He lives deep inside the woods, down a rickety, rotten staircase (if the story is to be believed). No one enters the woods, and the Banana Man remains undisturbed. Until some local teens act on a dare, that is.

Tracy thinks that Lisa is just being paranoid when she insists that she is being watched. The Banana Man is just a silly ghost story invented to keep kids from wandering off, right?

But when both girls receive a disturbing gift—one that could have only come from within the woods—they realize that legends are based in truth.

Always beware the bogeyman.

Flavour: “Trent went first, pushing through the wall of brush. Lisa was next and then Adam. I don’t know why we followed. I guess we didn’t believe him. I waded into the tangle of vines and branches, clearing a path with my arms. I hate the woods…. ‘Lisa?’ I called. ‘I’m right here,’ she said. I looked back. Her voice seemed to come from behind, but behind me was nothing—just the blackness of closed eyelids.” (9)

“Suddenly the street turned darker and quieter. Everything stilled. It was the same feeling I had in the woods. Someone was watching. I could feel eyes everywhere at once. Leering, lurking. From the rooftops, the storm drains, the alley. Under my skin, inside my thoughts. My stomach twisted as my heart sped up. I started running, my eyes focused on the stoplight—green, yellow, red, green, yellow, red—not wanting to see what was behind me, above me, beside me. I spent a lot of the summer running from things I didn’t want to see.” (21-22)

“That’s when I saw them resting on the plastic crate Katie used for a nightstand. My head spun. I choked back the sickness rising up my throat and hid them in my bag where no one would see. I thought they were meant for me…. His warning was as cold and clear as those eyes. I’m watching you, too. I know your secret.” (104)

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