A young girl adjusts to big life changes in Amie Borst and Bethanie Borst’s (Snow Fright, 2016, etc.) charming middle-grade novel with images by debut illustrator Hercka.
Middle school can be rough, but 12-year-old Cindy is having a particularly difficult time. Before her witch mother dies, she casts a spell on her daughter that causes her to transform into a skeleton every evening at sundown. Her father is horrified by his daughter’s nighttime appearance, and Cindy feels more alone than ever—until she discovers the perks of her nightly metamorphosis. With the help of a fairy godmother and a few other supernatural creatures, Cindy realizes she can journey into the Underworld and visit her mom while the surface world slumbers. Her nightly excursions give her solace, especially after her father brings home a new wife and her two unpleasant daughters. Soon, Cindy’s annoyance with her stepmother and her bizarre chore lists outweighs her grief. She also has a crush on Ethan McCallister, a boy at school who might be interested in her, as well. With the middle school dance coming up, Cindy finds herself torn between the land of the living and the world of the dead. The author’s supernatural twist on a classic fairy tale is unexpected and enjoyable. Hercka’s accompanying illustrations evoke filmmaker Tim Burton’s work, such as in The Nightmare Before Christmas. Cindy is a chatty and likable narrator who frequently provides narrative asides (under “Time Out!” captions) that will tickle young readers’ funny bones. Yet underneath the humor and the camp, the story has heart. It poignantly presents a family’s struggle to adjust to the passing of a loved one, and it offers subtle insights into parenting, presented from a middle school perspective: “How do parents always know where we are, even when we don’t want them to?”
A darkly sweet paranormal fairy tale about rediscovering life after death.