Books by Peter Ferguson

THE GOLDEN GHOST by Marion Dane Bauer
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 22, 2011

This ghost story by Bauer is a companion chapter book to her previous titles, The Blue Ghost, The Red Ghost and The Green Ghost (2005, 2008, 2008) and features an animal ghost—a golden dog. Out of boredom, Delsie and pal Todd decide to visit the supposedly haunted houses that were abandoned when the old cement mill shut down. They find one door that opens and evidence of someone living there, which spooks them. When they see an old man walking in the road, they know he's the one. By his side is a sparkling, golden shape, the old man's dead dog, now a ghost, but Delsie is the only one who can see it. She has longed for a dog but can't have one because her father is allergic to animals (up to and including groundhogs, as his tired, old joke goes). Opening with the dog's thoughts as she paces waiting for someone to see her, Bauer sets up the premise, and, of course, in the end the ghost dog comes to stay with Delsie. Credibility is strained, but kids reading this short chapter series won't mind. (It is one of the long-standing Stepping Stones series of early readers and chapter books.) Each of these "color" ghost stories features different characters and gimmicks, sure to make fans want more. Could purple be next? (Ghost story. 7-9)Read full book review >
ON A MEDIEVAL DAY by Rona Arato
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2010

Prefaced by a full-page close-up portrait, each of Arato's nine short tales describes a watershed day in the life of a young person in a different part of the world and a time between the eighth and 14th centuries. In locales ranging from the Mayan city of Tikal and Tang Dynasty China to Timbuktu and Toledo, the children enjoy a ball game or a joust, visit a doctor, get married, make friends and like familiar experiences. The best and least purpose-driven of the lot is the closing episode, in which a young Spanish apprentice discovers that his loving master is a converso (a secret Jew) but reaches a wordless understanding with him. Because the settings aren't described in close detail and in Ferguson's pictures all of the children sport similar features and the same faraway look, readers will get a better feeling for the various societies' commonalities than their differences. Still, each story is supplemented by a map and a spread of background facts, and overall the collection may pique readers' interest in finding out more about some of these realms and eras. (Informational fiction. 9-11)Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 2010

Mirroring the career he eventually entered, architect Fernandez builds up, like one of Havana's ornate structures, memories of childhood in his pre- and post-Castro hometown. A gifted illustrator, he drew constantly, easily rendering even minute architectural details. Before emigrating to New York City, young "Dino" and his family moved first to Madrid to assist relatives. Discovering a dictatorship that wasn't much different from the one they'd left in Cuba, the family returned home and then finally moved to the United States. Havana was never far from his mind, and art brought solace. So homesick was Dino in Manhattan that he actually "built" a cardboard replica of Havana that captured the colors and warmth he remembered. This fictionalized memoir is for the contemplative reader and anyone who has felt out of place or yearned for a beloved home; it could serve as a catalyst for creative expression. Wells has chosen anecdotes wisely, and Ferguson's illustrations are atmospheric, capturing Dino's childlike enthusiasm and longing. An author's note reveals how Wells came to know of and be inspired by Fernandez's story. (Fiction. 8-11)Read full book review >
THE WITCHES OF DREDMOORE HOLLOW by Riford McKenzie
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

Set in 1927 rural New England, McKenzie's atmospheric debut contains all the trappings of a good dark-and-stormy-night ghost story. Elijah, nearly 12, never suspects his plain, kindly farm mother is a witch, until two dotty aunts arrive at Dredmoore Hollow out of the blue and spirit him away to their creepy overgrown home at Moaning Marsh. These strangely glamorous ladies are up to something in their Magic Snippers beauty salon, where customers enter at their own risk, while the lugubrious hired hand Mr. Grobbs skulks about with his ever-present hunchback wolf, Jack. The evil aunts, who have been feuding with Elijah's mother for 15 years, are inordinately interested in Elijah's chin—namely his first whisker, which they will add to their cauldron potion and thereby rehabilitate the Dredmoore "curse." Written in the personable, gutsy voice of plainspoken Elijah, McKenzie's work betrays some influence of the Potter books, as well as a bit of Poe and Irving, but delivers a fresh, spooky shiver. (Fantasy. 10 & up)Read full book review >
THE RED GHOST by Marion Dane Bauer
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 22, 2008

Known for her ghostly tales, Bauer has successfully opened a trap door for transitional readers who want a scary—but not too scary—story. This companion to The Blue Ghost (2005), part of the Stepping Stones series, features an old doll dressed in red velvet that Jenna finds at a neighbor's garage sale. It's just the gift she needs for her younger sister's birthday, and the neighbor even gives it to her for free! But when Jenna's cat hisses and attacks the doll, and strange sounds come from it in her closet, she tries to get rid of it, even putting it in a garbage can. Is the muted voice calling for help coming from the doll? Why won't Mrs. Tate take the doll back? Is the doll haunted or haunting? Ferguson's sketchy black-and-white drawings decorate the text, but it's the eerie plot that will have girls racing to the end, and even looking at old dolls with widened eyes. Bauer's hit on a perfect formula, and like Andrew Lang with his Fairy Books, she has many more colors to go. (Fiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
LUCY ROSE by Katy Kelly
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 11, 2007

The dynamic, self-assured Lucy Rose continues her fourth-grade diary entries following the Christmas break to the end of the school year. Still busy as ever, Lucy Rose spends lots of time planning and unsuccessfully executing several money-making schemes to help best friend Jonique and her parents build a new bakery from an old plumbing store in disrepair. Despite her can-do attitude, Lucy Rose is dismayed by classmate Ashley's incessant teasing, creating rumors about Lucy's romance with good friend Melonhead. Yet when Ashley's true reasons for her own unhappiness are inadvertently revealed through an outright lie, a new dilemma emerges for Lucy Rose. She would REALLY like to expose Ashley for a satisfying payback, but isn't sure she should. Kelly continues her protagonist's winning chatty journal with enough wordplay and banter to keep kids and adults sympathetically nodding their heads for this young heroine. Lucy Rose sports an attitude on life's ups and downs that is "excellent-O" with the supportive cast of friends and family that readers have come to enjoy. "D-double-D-licious"-sounding recipes for "Lucy Roses" cupcakes and "Sweet Joniques" cookies appended in the same fun-loving style for kids to follow. (Fiction. 9-12)Read full book review >
THE SOMEBODIES by N.E. Bode
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2006

Never one to let a fancy go untickled, the pseudonymous author of The Anybodies (2004) and The Nobodies (2005) adds to the veritable spate of recent tales set in a subterranean New York. Here, after yet more fulminations against her—oh, sorry: "his"—creative writing teacher, Bode pits young heroine Fern against the megalomaniac Blue Queen. Said Queen has not only found a way to suck the souls from books and (really the same thing) people, but thanks to unusual skill as a de-motivational speaker, plots to conquer both the lower and upper cities with an "Embrace Your Inner Mediocrity" campaign. As ever, readers will have to stay alert to pick up the plethora of literary references, as Fern flies about in a glass elevator, steps out of a snowy, fur-lined wardrobe, turns her nerdy but game sidekick Howard into a pig (OK, a piggy bank, but the same idea) and more. All of this is on the way to demonstrating that nobility of spirit and right beliefs will ever win out over selfishness. The whiny personal comments will likely be wasted on children, but the series remains a delight for better-read audiences. (Fantasy. 10-12)Read full book review >
THE SISTERS GRIMM by Michael Buckley
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2006

Poor choreography in the battle scenes drags the latest entry in this otherwise delicious series below par. After a brief but necessary recap, Buckley plunges his two young sleuths into further developments in their search for their snatched parents. These include the appearance of a reckless sorcerer uncle; repeated attacks from a savage Jabberwock ridden by Little Red Riding Hood (here a crazed homicidal maniac in the wake of what the Big Bad Wolf did to her family); and a desperate search for the vorpal blade, which is not just the only way to kill a Jabberwock, but also a key to Faerie. The dialogue ("I'm a fish that talks and you're having trouble with me granting wishes?"), set pieces capped by a nerve-wracking visit to the hut of cannibal and soap-opera addict Baba Yaga and occasional theatrical illustrations from Ferguson are as clever as ever. But the headlong pace too often stumbles over outrageously destructive, lightning-swift attacks that somehow always leave characters time to ruminate, converse or fumble about in pockets for magical defenses. Even confirmed fans will hope for tighter writing in future outings. (Fantasy. 10-12)Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2005

Readers will definitely have to be up on their folktales, as well as children's lit classics in general, to catch all the references in this terrific, head-spinning series opener. Dumped roughly out of foster care into the arms of Relda, a twinkly-eyed woman claiming to be their grandma, Sabrina and Daphne Grimm, 11 and seven, find themselves in Ferryport Landing, a seemingly normal New York town originally (and more accurately) dubbed Fairyport Landing. It's inhabited by the likes of Mayor Charming, three chubby cops named Boarman, Swineheart and Hamstead and vulpine Mr. Canis—all transported overseas for their own safety long ago by four-times-Great Grandpa Wilhelm Grimm. Borrowing a flying carpet and a certain pair of silver slippers from a fashion-conscious Magic Mirror, Sabrina and Daphne quickly find themselves springing the renowned Jack from jail to help deal with a destructive giant who has snatched Relda. All is, however, not as it seems. Rich in well-set-up surprises and imaginatively tweaked characters, this tongue-in-cheek frolic features both a pair of memorable young sleuths and a madcap plot with plenty of leads into future episodes. (Fantasy. 10-12)Read full book review >
THE ANYBODIES by N.E. Bode
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 2004

A writer for adults and YAs takes a pen name for this witty, sometimes hilarious tale, punctuated with authorial asides and featuring switched babies, hidden identities, magical transformations, and allusions to literary classics. Frequently interrupting herself to slam her creative-writing teacher, apologize for putting in talking animals, etc., the chatty narrator follows Fern (12) as she is whisked away from her beige and orderly household to the book-stuffed boarding house where her real mother, who died in childbirth, had grown up possessing both a manual for shapechanging and the ability to shake characters or items right off any printed page. As she helps her still-grieving real father search for the manual before it can fall into the hands of a sinister magician known as The Miser, Fern discovers, to her delight, that she's inherited her mother's gift. Bode scatters the grounds with hobbits, fairies, clothed rabbits, teacups labeled "Drink Me," and other references for well-read children to catch, assembles a cast of fundamentally decent sorts led by a preteen with plenty on the ball, and concocts a tangled plot with a clever twist at the end, plus plenty of loose threads to connect a sequel. (Fiction. 10-13)Read full book review >