A ghostly tale with a historical twist.

THE FORGOTTEN GIRL

Two friends stumble upon an abandoned cemetery in the woods behind their houses.

Best friends Iris and Daniel, both African American, are having a hard year. At school, Iris is struggling to get the recognition she craves as captain of the step team, and at home, her 4-year-old sister steals their parents’ attention. Daniel’s father is recently deceased, and he feels the need to be extra careful so his mom and grandmother don’t experience loss again. Brown’s portrayals of Iris’ angst and Daniel’s grief are deftly written and accessible for readers. Despite their challenges, the friends know they can count on each other, so when Iris begs Daniel to come outside in the middle of the night to experience the first snow, he ignores his grandmother’s superstitious warning about the spirits of the snow who prey on children and joins her. After a snowball fight in the woods, Iris makes a snow angel and realizes she is actually lying on top of a grave. The headstone reveals that the grave’s occupant is a girl named Avery, who was 12, just like them. After that first night, Avery haunts Iris, compelling Iris to return to her and right the wrongs that left her in limbo. The book struggles with pacing, but the historical information about school desegregation, segregated cemeteries, and the Great Migration are welcome, unique additions.

A ghostly tale with a historical twist. (Paranormal adventure. 10-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-31724-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A didactic blueprint disguised as a supernatural treasure map.

GHOST GIRL

A girl who delights in the macabre harnesses her inherited supernatural ability.

It’s not just her stark white hair that makes 11-year-old Zee Puckett stand out in nowheresville Knobb’s Ferry. She’s a storyteller, a Mary Shelley fangirl, and is being raised by her 21-year-old high school dropout sister while their father looks for work upstate (cue the wayward glances from the affluent demography). Don’t pity her, because Zee doesn’t acquiesce to snobbery, bullying, or pretty much anything that confronts her. But a dog with bleeding eyes in a cemetery gives her pause—momentarily—because the beast is just the tip of the wicked that has this way come to town. Time to get some help from ghosts. The creepy supernatural current continues throughout, intermingled with very real forays into bullying (Zee won’t stand for it or for the notion that good girls need to act nice), body positivity, socio-economic status and social hierarchy, and mental health. This debut from a promising writer involves a navigation of caste systems, self-esteem, and villainy that exists in an interesting world with intriguing characters, but they receive a flat, two-dimensional treatment that ultimately makes the book feel like one is learning a ho-hum lesson in morality. Zee is presumably White (as is her rich-girl nemesis–cum-comrade, Nellie). Her best friend, Elijah, is cued as Black. Warning: this just might spurn frenzied requests for Frankenstein.

A didactic blueprint disguised as a supernatural treasure map. (Supernatural. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-304460-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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There’s nothing exceptional here, but the otherworldly elements and headlong pacing will sweep readers along.

HENRY HUNTER AND THE CURSED PIRATES

From the Henry Hunter series , Vol. 2

In a second brush with the supernatural (following Henry Hunter and the Beast of Snagov, 2016), brainy young sleuth Henry and his faithful chronicler, Adolphus, are kidnapped by undead pirates. Yo ho ho!

News that a friend’s parents have vanished on a cruise in the Caribbean prompts the dapper kid detective (looking ever natty in suit, tie, and fedora in Tankard’s lavishly detailed drawings) to take a quick sabbatical from St. Grimbold’s School for Extraordinary Boys and fly to Barbados to investigate. Hardly has he begun than an ectoplasmic tentacle grabs him and his sidekick, Dolf—depositing both aboard the spectral ship of Blackbeard himself. The legendary pirate is still around courtesy of a curse laid on a certain bit of booty and, since ghosts can’t hold shovels, bent on collecting hapless tourists to dig up buried treasure. Matthews enthusiastically chucks bits of pirate lore, along with the odd skeleton, map, and treasure chest, into the enterprise, and for additional atmosphere, the illustrator strews margins and corners with bugs, fish, stormy seas, and nautical jetsam. Aside from a “Rastafarian” guide, the entire cast, living and otherwise, is evidently white (and, with one minor exception, male). By the end, the curse is broken, the pirates gone, the captives rescued, and Henry himself mysteriously vanished in the wake of an encounter with merpeople. Stay tuned.

There’s nothing exceptional here, but the otherworldly elements and headlong pacing will sweep readers along. (Fantasy/mystery. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-51071-039-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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