Modern themes and old-fashioned values in a ghostly Nantucket wonder, with a twist.



Nantucket’s ghosts work alongside living islanders to face the challenge of development that guts old houses.

One year after a tragic boating accident, the ghost of Mary Chase, dead over 100 years, wakes in a windless, 21st-century November. She’s the new Town Crier, needed to warn others about the imminent destruction of her 18th-century house, one of many being “rehabilitated” for new, off-island owners. She watches the Old North Gang—Gabe Pinkham and Paul, Cyrus, and Maddie Coffin, all white island children of mostly English descent; biracial Phoebe Folger Antoine, whose mom is white and whose dad is Jamaican; and Dominican–Cape Verdean twins Maria and Markos Ramos—as they encounter ghosts from an earlier time and begin to work with them to thwart the developers through a string of “accidents.” And, at a crucial moment, when Phee’s house is threatened, once-quiet Mary finds her voice, screaming to wake the world. The author of such well-loved, intricately plotted mysteries as Chasing Vermeer (2004), Balliett outdoes herself here with this surprising story, set in a lovingly depicted present-day Nantucket and peopled with ordinary citizens who, like their predecessors, work with their hands. Phee and her grandfather have even started an organization to help homeless island workers. Mary’s first-person, present-tense account weaves in and out of an omniscient observation of the children’s actions as the line blurs between the living and the dead.

Modern themes and old-fashioned values in a ghostly Nantucket wonder, with a twist. (Fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-545-86756-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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Moving and poetic.

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A motherless boy is forced to abandon his domesticated fox when his father decides to join soldiers in an approaching war.

Twelve-year-old Peter found his loyal companion, Pax, as an orphaned kit while still grieving his own mother’s death. Peter’s difficult and often harsh father said he could keep the fox “for now” but five years later insists the boy leave Pax by the road when he takes Peter to his grandfather’s house, hundreds of miles away. Peter’s journey back to Pax and Pax’s steadfastness in waiting for Peter’s return result in a tale of survival, intrinsic connection, and redemption. The battles between warring humans in the unnamed conflict remain remote, but the oncoming wave of deaths is seen through Pax’s eyes as woodland creatures are blown up by mines. While Pax learns to negotiate the complications of surviving in the wild and relating to other foxes, Peter breaks his foot and must learn to trust a seemingly eccentric woman named Vola who battles her own ghosts of war. Alternating chapters from the perspectives of boy and fox are perfectly paced and complementary. Only Peter, Pax, Vola, and three of Pax’s fox companions are named, conferring a spare, fablelike quality. Every moment in the graceful, fluid narrative is believable. Klassen’s cover art has a sense of contained, powerful stillness. (Interior illustrations not seen.)

Moving and poetic. (Animal fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237701-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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Full of puzzles to think about, puns to groan at and references to children’s book titles, this solid, tightly plotted read...


From the Mr. Lemoncello's Library series , Vol. 1

When a lock-in becomes a reality game, 12-year-old Kyle Keeley and his friends use library resources to find their way out of Alexandriaville’s new public library.

The author of numerous mysteries for children and adults turns his hand to a puzzle adventure with great success. Starting with the premise that billionaire game-maker Luigi Lemoncello has donated a fortune to building a library in a town that went without for 12 years, Grabenstein cleverly uses the tools of board and video games—hints and tricks and escape hatches—to enhance this intricate and suspenseful story. Twelve 12-year-old winners of an essay contest get to be the first to see the new facility and, as a bonus, to play his new escape game. Lemoncello’s gratitude to the library of his childhood extends to providing a helpful holographic image of his 1968 librarian, but his modern version also includes changing video screens, touch-screen computers in the reading desks and an Electronic Learning Center as well as floor-to-ceiling bookshelves stretching up three stories. Although the characters, from gamer Kyle to schemer Charles Chiltington, are lightly developed, the benefits of pooling strengths to work together are clear.

Full of puzzles to think about, puns to groan at and references to children’s book titles, this solid, tightly plotted read is a winner for readers and game-players alike. (Mystery. 9-13)

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-87089-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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