18 June 2011


Locus Focus: Take Fifty-Six!

Today I have another setting from a book that is in our June Giveaway pool. What I don't have (yet) is a cover image. =/

For some arcane reason, the publishers haven't seen fit to release a single promotional scan of the cover. The book is reasonably well known: it's still in print, very visible to browsers, familiar to many young readers I've tutored, and used to be required reading in one of the biggest grade schools in the metro (if not more than one!). And yet it is virtually invisible on the Internet.

I took a decent photo of the cover with my family's new camera--but of course, I can't find the USB cord and so can't upload it. (Typical.) Until then, I'll be using the logo of the Kuwentista ng mga Tsikiting (loosely translated as "Storytellers for Tots"), an association of writers for children to which the author belongs.

The Grade School Building
The Secret
by Lin Acacio-Flores

"Dare!" Sylvia whispered . . . "I dare you . . . go into that building!"

Rica thought for a moment. "It would be fun," she said.

"Two of the younger girls, grade five, I think, actually went in there. . . They came out screaming."


"They said they had seen a nun with her back turned to the door. And when she heard the girls come in, the nun turned to face them." Sylvia stopped. Sister Angela had turned at the whispering. . . Sylvia scribbled in pencil on her paper and turned the edge up so that Rica could read it. Sylvia had written,

The nun had no face under her veil.

When Rica San Pedro returns to Mary, Queen of Angels for the 1942 school year, the first thing she notices is that the Grade School building has been made off-limits to all students, with a sister sitting as a sentry at the front door from sunrise to sundown. Yes, the student body may have shrunk from two thousand to forty since the war broke out--but Rica still doesn't see why the German nuns running her convent school are being so strict about one unused building.

It happens to be her favourite place on campus. She misses taking PhysEd classes in the big gymnasium, walking in the atrium with the "Guardian Angel garden," and just reading in the well-stocked library. So when her friend Sylvia dares her to find a way back into the building, and warns her that she may run into a faceless nun in the corridors, Rica takes her up on the challenge.

I can't think of a more fitting setting for a scare. Lin Acacio-Flores's novella The Secret is set in a Catholic boarding school during the early days of World War II in the Pacific: a place where only prayer can dispel the fear of hell and a time that drives home the dread of death. How could there not be a scary story or two whispered among its students?

Yet as much as I'd love this to be a Horror novel, Acacio-Flores is taking the less traveled route with her story. Superstitions may be rife during wartime, but so are secrets. And while stories of the supernatural spread like wildfire, there are many other things that heroes must be willing to take to their graves. When Rica discovers the secret of the Grade School Building, will she be brave enough to risk her life for what she believes?

Image Source: Kuwentista ng mga Tsikiting logo


Salome Ellen said...

Wow! Now I have another book I'd like to win. I had better actually post something over at my blog -- except that helping out with the twins doesn't leave much time.....

Kate said...

This looks really interesting! Faceless nuns would get me from the start.

No contribution this week I'm afraid, but I have one lined up for next!

Enbrethiliel said...


Ellen -- I'm happy enough to read that you're so interested! As I was telling Syrin in another thread, it's hard to get people enthusiastic about "obscure" stuff--even if it's great obscure stuff.

But of course, if you'd really like to do a Locus Focus post, I'm not going to stop you. ;-)

Kate -- I know, right? ;-) I'll look forward to your post next week. =)