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PEMBA’S SONG by Marilyn Nelson


A Ghost Story

by Marilyn Nelson, Tonya C. Hegamin

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-545-02076-3
Publisher: Scholastic

A beautifully written, richly historical but too-quickly paced tale unfolds in two voices in this suspenseful ghost story. Fourteen-year-old Pemba is seriously angry with her mom for dragging her from her friends and their Brooklyn home to live in small-town Connecticut. When she encounters an old local man, Abraham, she is initially relieved to see another African-American in what she feared would be an all-white community. These feelings give way to annoyance when he suddenly seems to be everywhere, interfering in her life. Then she starts having haunting dreams and visions in which a young slave named Phyllys, who used to live in her house, fears for her life. Pemba is curious but terrified, and Abraham seems to be the one person who can help her. Nelson and Hegamin have crafted an intriguing mystery, and while their writing styles are very different, they share a lovely poetic feel. However, there is a persistent rushing of the narrative, with details emerging unnaturally fast, that detracts from the overall appeal of this novella. (Fiction. 12 & up)