This December Holidays Library Lesson covers winter holidays from all over the world! Features Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas, Pancha Ganapati, Boxing Day, and La Befana. Includes whole-group library lesson, scrolling slideshow, Recommended Reads, Scavenger Hunt activity, and lesson plan template.

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Review: The Caged Graves (Salerni)

AUTHOR: Dianne K. Salerni
SERIES: none
ISBN: 9780547868530
PAGES: 329
SOURCE: my library’s OverDrive
GENRE: historical fiction; mystery
SETTING: Catawissa, Pennsylvania, 1867

SUMMARY: Two years after the Civil War ends, seventeen-year old Verity Boone returns to her father’s home in small town Catawissa, Pennsylvania. Verity is engaged to a boy she does not really know, and when she meets him, she is disheartened to find that they have little in common. When Verity happens upon her mother’s grave, she is shocked to find that her mother and aunt are both buried outside the churchyard AND that their graves are entirely enclosed in metal cages. Incensed at the state of the graves, Verity starts asking questions and requesting that the graves be moved inside the church cemetery. But there are whispers that the women were cursed, or possibly witches, and no one is interested in talking about it.

REVIEW: This book has been on my TBR for awhile now. I absolutely LOVED the premise! Author Dianne Salerni wrote this book when she saw the real Caged Graves in Pennsylvania, and since no one knew much about who these women were, the author wrote a fiction story around the real-life mystery.

I really enjoyed this book! The mystery of the missing treasure was a bit hokey, but I loved Verity’s spunk and the love triangle she finds herself in. In most YA love triangles, it’s easy enough to see who the heroine will/should end up with. In this one though, it was a puzzle right up until the end. And I LOVED the way the love triangle ended up–such a sweet story there.

Even before I read The Caged Graves, I was able to booktalk it by showing photos of the real graves and talking about the real-life mystery. Like me, students were interested in reading the book based on that story alone. Now that I have read the book, I can do an even better job talking it up with my students. And I already know a teacher that I plan to recommend it to!

THEMES: murder, rumors/gossip, family, honesty, social class disparities

THE BOTTOM LINE: A must for middle and high school libraries. It isn’t the most exciting book I’ve read, but it is well-written and has a very interesting backstory.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: I have already recommended this title many times. Very easy to booktalk!


  • Overall: 4/5
  • Creativity: 4/5
  • Characters: 4/5
  • Engrossing: 3/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Appeal to teens: 4/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5


  • Language: none
  • Sexuality: mild; some kissing
  • Violence: medium; a few characters are violently attacked, a murder plot; a character is shot
  • Drugs/Alcohol: mild; drugged drinks, poisoning


Explanation of the real Caged Graves

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