The paranormal is a popular topic, and this slender volume will likely be an easy sell.

An unexpected voice caught on a baby monitor. The strange face of someone who wasn’t seen captured in a photo. An object that moves by itself. Could these be evidence of ghosts?

Halls here turns her attention to the world of the paranormal. This brief effort examines five aspects of the ghostly world, offering an explanation of ghosts of different types; descriptions of some haunted places; information about a few famous ghost hunters, along with tools of the trade and techniques; a history of some hoaxes that at first appeared to be unexplainable hauntings; and a few people’s descriptions of their own paranormal experiences, including those of children’s authors Bruce Coville and Vivian Vande Velde. Large, generally satisfyingly creepy color photos accompany the high-interest text. Although this effort includes descriptions of photos of a couple of houses that were purported to include ghostly images, frustratingly, they are not included. The information is presented with an attitude of mild skepticism; Halls isn’t seeking converts. At the conclusion, techniques for faking two types of ghostly photos are appended. A bibliography and a list of suggested further reading, along with websites of numerous haunted places to visit, may inspire further research.

The paranormal is a popular topic, and this slender volume will likely be an easy sell. (Nonfiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4677-0593-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014


Ultimately adds little to conversations about race.

A popular YouTube series on race, “Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man,” turns how-to manual and history lesson for young readers.

Acho is a former NFL player and second-generation Nigerian American who cites his upbringing in predominantly White spaces as well as his tenure on largely Black football teams as qualifications for facilitating the titular conversations about anti-Black racism. The broad range of subjects covered here includes implicit bias, cultural appropriation, and systemic racism. Each chapter features brief overviews of American history, personal anecdotes of Acho’s struggles with his own anti-Black biases, and sections titled “Let’s Get Uncomfortable.” The book’s centering of Whiteness and White readers seems to show up, to the detriment of its subject matter, both in Acho’s accounts of his upbringing and his thought processes regarding race. The overall tone unfortunately conveys a sense of expecting little from a younger generation who may have a greater awareness than he did at the same age and who, therefore, may already be uncomfortable with racial injustice itself. The attempt at an avuncular tone disappointingly reads as condescending, revealing that, despite his online success with adults, the author is ill-equipped to be writing for middle-grade readers. Chapters dedicated to explaining to White readers why they shouldn’t use the N-word and how valuable White allyship is may make readers of color (and many White readers) bristle with indignation and discomfort despite Acho’s positive intentions.

Ultimately adds little to conversations about race. (glossary, FAQ, recommended reading, references) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-80106-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2021



This useful but uneven volume summarizes the legend of the Trojan War, then describes the archaeological excavations at Hisarlik, the Turkish site believed to have been Troy. After a brief (though ponderous) introduction comes a graceful 20-page retelling of how, according to Homer, the Greeks fought at Troy. Elegant red-and-black illustrations every few pages echo Greek vases, part of the overall attractive book design. Readers must then switch gears for the final 35 pages, illustrated with a handful of photographs, which describe the main excavations, from Heinrich Schliemann in 1870 through several more scientific expeditions up to recent times. The authors, a writer and a classical scholar, review hypotheses about the site and occasionally weave in anecdotes, but the overall scheme is chronological and the writing straightforward, without the spark of Laura Amy Schlitz’s biography, The Hero Schliemann (2006). However, readers may find the recap of The Iliad enjoyable and the rest, including a timeline and recommended websites, helpful for reports. Given the source material, it should be better. (bibliography, source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58089-326-8

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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