A glowingly eerie tale of friendship, family, and strange things lurking in your own backyard

Each day leading up to the April 14 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today we feature 2012 Young People’s Literature Finalist:

The Tanglewood Terror

Kurtis Scaletta

Alfred A. Knopf/Random House Children’s Books

Category Sponsor: Sit Investment Associates


When Eric Parrish comes across glowing mushrooms in the woods behind his house, he’s sure there’s a scientific explanation. But when the fungus begins to overrun the entire town of Tanglewood – in a repeat of a blight that, legend has it, reduced the town to rubble two hundred years ago – it falls to Eric, his brother Brian, and a runaway girl named Mandy to get to the bottom of the mystery.

An excerpt from The Tanglewood Terror:

I stepped out on a quaking, jumbled layer of rust-red dead boughs. All the trees were down in a ragged circle about ten yards wide. The smell of rotting vegetation was overpowering, even to me–and I’m used to the smells of compost heaps and locker rooms. It looked like a spaceship had landed and crushed everything in its path.

Even spookier was a faint bluish-green light shining up through the branches.

“What’s that?” Brian asked.

“I don’t know.” I crouched and peered through the branches. There was a bubbling puddle of neon ooze underneath the fallen branches. Maybe the spaceship had left some alien goo behind to infest our planet and turn us all into pod people.

“I’m going to see.” He dropped to his knees, set the jar down, and shoved one of the dead branches aside. He tossed one in my direction, sending up a cloud of white dust.

“Be careful,” I told him. Even if it wasn’t alien ooze, what if it was toxic waste?

He threw a second branch my way, then laughed while I tried to wave away another dust cloud. But he wasn’t laughing at me.

“Look!” He pointed.

There was a cluster of mushrooms, and every one of them was lit up like a little blue Christmas tree. Was something spilled on them, or did they just glow like that naturally?

Click here for an audio excerpt, courtesy of Random House Audio.


Kurtis Scaletta lives in Minneapolis, where he is currently working on his fourth book for middle school audiences.


“Witty banter and well-described scenes make this book a delight.”
– Minnesota Book Awards judge

“Scaletta is great at making the bizarre and possibly supernatural seem, if not ordinary, completely plausible.”
– Star Tribune

“A biological thriller/mystery with a significant level of heart.”
– Kirkus Reviews


Click here to read the transcript of an in-depth Q&A session between Scarletta and fellow young adult author Aaron Starmer. Topics covered include Tanglewood protagonist Eric Parrish and the appeal of stand-alone novels.


Read this blog post on Kurtis Scarletta’s website to learn the interesting origins of the book’s title.

Click here to read fun facts about natural settings and plant species featured in The Tanglewood Terror.


Award winners will be announced at the 24th Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 14, 2012 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel – Saint Paul Riverfront. The opening reception begins at 7 p.m. followed by the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. New this year: a post-awards “Epilogue Celebration.” Tickets are available online or by calling 651-222-3242. Click here for more information.

Have you read The Tanglewood Terror? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!


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