Skeleton Man

Skeleton Man

by Joseph Bruchac


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A chilling middle grade novel featuring a brave young girl, missing parents, and a terrifying stranger, based on a Native American legend. R.L. Stine, New York Times bestselling author of the Goosebumps series, raved, "This book gave ME nightmares!”

Molly’s father, who grew up on the Mohawk Reserve of Akwesasne, always had the best scary stories. One of her favorites was the legend of Skeleton Man, a gruesome tale about a man with such insatiable hunger he ate his own flesh before devouring those around him.

But ever since her parents mysteriously vanished, those spooky tales have started to feel all too real.

Don't miss The Legend of Skeleton Man: a spine-tingling collection of Skeleton Man and its sequel, The Return of Skeleton Man!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780064408882
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/05/2003
Series: Skeleton Man , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 131,801
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.26(d)
Lexile: 730L (what's this?)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Joseph Bruchac is the author of Skeleton Man, The Return of Skeleton Man, Bearwalker, The Dark Pond, and Whisper in the Dark, as well as numerous other critically acclaimed novels, poems, and stories, many drawing on his Abenaki heritage. Mr. Bruchac and his wife, Carol, live in upstate New York, in the same house where he was raised by his grandparents. You can visit him online at

Read an Excerpt

Skeleton Man
Chapter One
Footsteps on the Stair

I'm not sure how to begin this story. For one thing, it's still going on. For another, you should never tell a story unless you're sure how it's going to end. At least that's what my sixth-grade teacher, Ms. Shabbas, says. And I'm not sure at all. I'm not sure that I even know the beginning. I'm not sure if I'm a minor character or the heroine. Heck, I'm not even sure I'll be around to tell the end of it. But I don't think anyone else is going to tell this story.

Wait! What was that noise?

I listen for the footsteps on the stairs, footsteps much heavier than those an elderly man should make. But it's quiet, just the usual spooky nighttime creaking of this old house. I don't hear anyone coming now. If I don't survive, maybe they'll all realize I should have been taken seriously and then warn the world!

Warn the world. That's pretty melodramatic, isn't it? But that is one of the things I do well, melodrama. At least that is what Ms. Shabbas says. Her name is Maureen Shabbas. But Ms. Showbiz is what we all call her, because her main motive for living seems to be torturing our class with old Broadway show tunes. She starts every day by singing a few bars of one and then making it the theme for the day. It is so disgustingly awful that we all sort of like it. Imagine someone who loves to imitate Yul Brynner in The King and I, a woman with an Afro, no less, getting up and singing "Shall We Dance?" in front of a classroom of appalled adolescents. Ms. Showbiz. And she has the nerve to call me melodramatic!

But I guess I am. Maybe this whole thing is a product of my overactive imagination. If that turnsout to be so, all I can say is who wouldn't have an overactive imagination if they'd heard the kind of stories I used to hear from Mom and Dad?

Dad had the best stories. They were ones his aunties told him when he was growing up on the Mohawk Reserve of Akwesasne on the Canadian side. One of my favorites was the one about the skeleton monster. He was just a human being at first, a lazy, greedy uncle who hung around the longhouse and let everyone else hunt for him. One day, alone in the lodge, waiting for the others to come home with food, Lazy Uncle burned his finger really badly in the fire and stuck it into his mouth to cool it. "Oooh," he said as he sucked the cooked flesh, "this tastes good!" (Isn't that gross? I love it. At least, I used to love it.)It tasted so good, in fact, that he ate all the flesh off his finger. "Ah," he said, "this is an easy way to get food, but I am still hungry."

So he cooked another finger, and another, until he had eaten all his fingers. "Oooh," he said, "that was good, but I am still hungry." So he cooked his toes and ate them. He cooked his feet and ate them. He cooked his legs and ate them. He cooked his right arm and then his left. He kept on until he had cooked his whole body and eaten it, and all that was left was a skeleton. When he moved, his bones rubbed together: tschick-a-tschick-tschick-a-tschick.

"Ah," he said in a voice that was now just a dry whisper. "That was good, but I am still hungry. I hope that my relatives come home soon."

And when his relatives came home, one by one, they found that the lodge was dark except for the glow of the cooking fire. They could see a shadowy shape beckoning to them from the other side of the fire. They could hear a sound like this: tschick-a-tschick-tschick-a-tschick.

"Come in, my relatives," Skeleton Man whispered. "I have been waiting for you."One by one all of his relatives came into the lodge. Skeleton Man caught them and ate them, all but one. She was his niece, and she had been playing in her favorite spot down by the river that flowed through the gorge. She was late coming home because she had seen a rabbit that had fallen into the river. She had rescued it from drowning and warmed it in her arms until it was able to run away.

When the little girl came to the lodge, she was surprised at how quiet it was. She should have heard people talking and laughing, but she didn't hear anything. Something was wrong. Slowly, carefully, she approached the door of the lodge. A strange sound came from the shadows within: tschick-a-tschick-tschick-a-tschick. Then a dry voice called out to her.

"My niece," Skeleton Man whispered. "Come into the lodge. I have been waiting for you."

That voice made her skin crawl. "Where are my parents?" she asked."They are here. They are here inside," Skeleton Man whispered. "Come in and be with them."

"No," the girl said, "I will not come inside."

"Ah," Skeleton Man replied in his dry, thin voice, "that is all right. I will come out for you."

Then Lazy Uncle, the Skeleton Man, walked out of the lodge. His dry bones rubbed together as he walked toward the little girl: tschick-a-tschick-tschick-a-tschick.

The girl began to run, not sure where to go. Skeleton Man would have caught her and eaten her if it hadn't been for that rabbit she'd rescued from the river. It appeared on the path before her.

"I will help you because you saved me," said the rabbit. "Follow me."

Then the rabbit helped the little girl outwit Skeleton Man. It even showed her how to bring everyone Skeleton Man had eaten back to life.

My mom and dad told me stories like that all the time. Before they vanished. Disappeared. Gone, just like that.

I was on TV when they disappeared. You probably saw me on Unsolved Mysteries. The news reporter said into her microphone, "Child left alone in house for over three days, terrified, existing on cornflakes and canned food." Actually I went to school on Tuesday and called out for pizza once. Mom had left money on her dresser when they went out that Saturday evening and never returned.

Skeleton Man. Copyright (c) by Joseph Bruchac . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Table of Contents

What People are Saying About This

R.L. Stine

“The legend is chilling—and the terror builds on every page. This book gave ME nightmares!”

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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Skeleton Man 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 61 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is awsome . So buy it now!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The best book ever itz my fav no doubt
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a fantasic book. It was on of my favorite book. If you read it you won't want to but it down and you'll get chill's down your spine!!!!!!!!! I give it 5 stars two thumbs up.!!!!!!!!!!!:-)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My teacher at school reccomended this book to me and I loved it! This book is scary but it ends in a great way. I also read the second book in this series ( The Return of Skeleton Man) which was also great. I really reccomend this to anyone!
MindlessSydney More than 1 year ago
I really like this book.It is like a mystery and has a lot of interesting details in the book.This book is about a kid who is thinking his uncle is a "Skeleton Man". You would have to read the book to find out ho the ending ends. :)
Anonymous31 More than 1 year ago
Book Review Outline Book title and author: Skeleton Man Joseph Bruchac Title of review: the best book ever Number of stars (1 to 5): Introduction The book was about a lazy uncle that ate his family then himself because he was hungry. Description and summary of main points A lazy uncle the ate himself turned into a skeleton man and tried to eat his neice that was looking for her parents Evaluation I thought that the book was pretty good because I like scary books. Conclusion The book was probally the best book I had ever read because it was talking about a skeleton man. Your final review I thought the book was the most interesting book that has ever been made because it is kind of scary but it's weird to so I thought it was a good book and I think that people should read the book because it was pretty good.
J.D. Halter More than 1 year ago
Skeleton Man ------------------ Reviewed By: J.D. Halter Very recently, I finished reading “Skeleton Man” by Joseph Bruchac, and I was quite honestly blown away. Bruchac, who is currently living in Saratoga Springs, New York with his Wife and two Sons, has a genre that is unique to himself. He writes either exact or spinoff stories of native american folklore for young adults, as he has written books like “Pocahontas” and “Sacagawea.” On the other hand, “Skeleton Man” Is a marvel of storytelling, winning a “Parents Guide to Children's' Media” Award. The story takes place in the spring of 2003. Molly heads to sleep on a saturday night as her Parents head out for their date night. Molly wakes up the next day expecting to hear the sound of sizzling eggs and the smell of bacon grease-but there's none of that. Silence is all she could hear. This goes on for the next three days, her parents still not returning. After the authorities found out, she was placed under the car of her tall, lanky and bony uncle. Things get uncomfortable, as the first night approaches she lies awake in her bed, wanting to escape from this jail of a home-after all, there are bars on her bedroom windows. Than, all of the sudden, “Schnick!” The lock on her door clicks shut. Now there's no escape from her room-and things only get worse from there. I feel that Bruchac's point he was trying to establish in this book was that, with courage and some support from family and people you trust, you can overcome any fear or obstacle. If this is the correct theme, it's extremely inspirational, and was a great idea to get across to the audience. I absolutely LOVED this book. It was a fantastic story, and when I got to the Climax I didn’t want to put it down. Usually, the expositions of a book are extremely boring, but Skeleton Man throws you straight into the action. The main thing I loved about this book is the INSANE amount of suspense. The story keeps you on the edge of your seat 24/7. I love a good suspense story, and this book hits it right on the head. I would definitely suggest this book to fans of the horror, suspense, and fantasy genres. It's an incredible story. There's one thing though. Something you need to know (I found this out by having to research the book) Bruchac bases his stories heavily on native american folklore, and this whole story is a modern version of the story from the native american culture, and there are a couple of graphic or violent scenes. But, other than that, I enjoyed the book heavily, and you should definitely pick this up from your local library!
jepeters333 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting story - not sure it's appropriate for elementary kids. A girls parents are taken by the skeleton man and he poses as the girls uncle.
emma4321 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Molly wakes up one day and her parents are G-O-N-E! She gets taken to her uncle's house and well read the book!
hewayzha on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A wonderful, scary story. Bruchac does a great job at making this story one that could happen. Having grown up on a reservation and hearing stories similar to this brought back old, shivery memories. Molly's ability to stay cool, be brave and plan how to save her parents will make readers admire her and want to find out how she manages to defeat the evil Skeleton Man. Even if this is a story from the Mohawk culture, it is a scary tale that will entertain any child who likes a good, scary story.
ykolstad on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is a very quick read , because it's creepily engrossing. I like the way the author presents a very strong female protagonist who uses her Native American heritage and wisdom (coming to her in the form of dreams and memories of her parents) to fight her uncle (the monster). This book is "bone-chilling"!
allawishus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was quite a scary book! Molly wakes up and her parents are missing; she has to go live with an uncle she's never heard of or seen before. Soon he is locking her in her bedroom and feeding her drugged food. Molly starts dreaming of a skeleton man and a rabbit who helps to save her from him - the dream comes from an old Mohawk legend that her dad used to tell her. Eventually, with the help of her dreams to guide her, and her own ingenuity and bravery, she is able to bring an end to her nightmare and reunite with her parents.The author masterfully ratchets up the tension from the very first page and keeps you on the edge of your seat through the whole book - it's short, but very potent! It's still somewhat scary in the end because Molly and her family don't really know or understand the "skeleton man's" motivation for kidnapping them and torturing them. I really liked the emphasis on Molly's agency in the book; she's repeatedly told in her dreams that she must take action to deal with her situation, that no one can save her, that she must save herself, and that she is a very very brave person. I loved it!
lindgoldman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Molly's parents have disappeared and she must live with her creepy "uncle". The last 30 pages of this really move fast. It's great for those kids who want a scary book.
heidialice on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Molly¿s parents disappear, and she is sent to live with a creepy, bony man who claims to be her long-lost great uncle. Her sleep is filled with nightmares, and her waking life begins to resemble them.This book was quick, chilling and well-written. Great creepy suspense, and nice modern-day framing of a Native American folk tale. This was not suspense with a lot of surprises: we pretty much know what¿s going to happen, but we have to agonize over it while the suspense builds. Not terrifying, but a good read for younger teens who want a bit of a scare, and a quick book (114 pages).
adge73 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's so rare to come across a book for kids that is really, truly scary, but this is one. It gave *me* nightmares, and I so would have loved reading a book like this when I was a kid. I loved reading it yesterday.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In the book skeleton man is about a girl thats parents go missing and a guy that says is her uncle take her and takes care of her. She is not safe and can feel that so she plans a way to escape. when she does escape she runs way and he chases her but she gets way and he falls in a river and is never found. I liked this book I though it was good. When the girl was planing her escape I had no idea how she was going to do it but she had a good plan and she got away. This book is a good book to read if you like mystery
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's good.. but I've read better, and it has one too many pictures. Sorry but I don't think it was worth the money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did not like this book it was obvius when the uuncle showed up that he was skeleton man by the way she discribed him in the begining but im going to read the next one to see what happens my favorite part was when it ended
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dont say what happened it ruins the reason of reading the book!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ilove this book :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was very suppriseing n creepy!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read this in middle school and it has stuck with me through college. So good.