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Edition 1: Neighborhood Watch by Jennifer Solomon

flag USWhen kids start to disappear, local menace Jaden points the finger at his odd neighbors, the Spragues. Will he be able to stop them before there’s another friend on the menu? A classic thriller, but wait for the twist… SY

Jaden Conner-Sterling was an awful little boy. Not to his parents, perhaps, but certainly to most of the world. He was eleven; too old for his actions to be considered cute, and too young for them to be considered dangerous. He was smart in a sly sort of way; too small to be a bully at his school, he instead used his fast wits to become a lackey to the older, stronger kids.

It was Jaden who came up with the nickname “Fetus Face” for the soft, fleshy fourth grader named Douglas, and “Crotch rot” for the pretty, but extremely shy, Marilyn. When his friends found a dead cat by the side of the road, it was Jaden’s idea to put it in a used Chinese takeout bag and stow it in the locker of an Asian student named Takumi. “Enjoy your runch!” the gang shouted as the young boy (Japanese, not Chinese) tried not to cry.

Jaden was clever enough to modify his behavior among adults, though he didn’t fool everyone. His math teacher, Margaret Leonard, for example, watched him like a hawk. Forty years of dealing with unruly children had given her sharp instincts, though she was no longer fast enough on her feet to catch him in the act. Jaden referred to her as Grandma Moses. His neighbors across the street, the Fitzgeralds, had caught him chucking stones at their bird feeder. His parents reprimanded him vaguely, and Jaden was careful to check that the Fitzgeralds were out before resuming his target practice.

His parents, David and Laura saw Jaden in a different light. In their eyes, he was a highly intelligent, inquisitive little boy.

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