Mild goose bumps for readers who prefer their ectoplasm served up in buckets.

READ REVIEW

THE TITANIC LOCKET

From the Haunted Museum series , Vol. 1

Spectral voyagers practically outnumber the living ones on a re-enactment of the Titanic’s cruise in this ghost-happy series opener.

A visit to a creepy museum just before boarding a replica of the famous liner leaves sisters Samantha and Jessica saddled with a locket salvaged from the original ship that keeps coming back despite their increasingly frantic efforts to get rid of it. Worse yet, they begin to notice sudden chills, scratching and whimpering sounds in the walls and a weirdly mutable number on their cabin door. Frequent encounters with supernatural figures (some historical, such as John Jacob Astor’s dog, Kitty) escalate until Jessica is nearly drowned in the bath by a poltergeist, Samantha is trapped in the elegant ballroom with dancers who rot before her eyes, and both sisters are forcibly possessed by the spirits of former passengers with personal scores to settle. Weyn ratchets up the eeriness by pairing off several of her living characters with strangely similar dead ones and quickly builds to a stormy climax that the sisters narrowly survive thanks to timely intervention by a powerful medium. After that, it’s smooth sailing—at least until the next episode.

Mild goose bumps for readers who prefer their ectoplasm served up in buckets. (Horror. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-58842-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet!

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are Black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its Black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows Black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A bit disjointed and episodic, but Tristan is a likable companion.

THE DOUGHNUT FIX

From the Doughnut Fix series , Vol. 1

Tristan’s family has always loved living in New York City, but all that is about to change.

Dad announces that they are moving to a dilapidated, purple house on a hill on the outskirts of the very small town of Petersville in upstate New York. Baby sister Zoe is frightened and confused. Jeanine, two years younger than Tristan and a math genius in gifted and talented classes, is appalled and worried about her educational prospects. Tristan is devastated, for he is a city kid through and through. Because they won’t be starting school for several months, their parents tell Jeanine and Tristan they must complete a project. Jeanine selects a complicated scientific and mathematical study that allows her to remain uninvolved with people. Tristan, who loves to cook, like his chef mom, decides to start a business making and selling the supposedly mind-blowing chocolate-cream doughnuts once famous in Petersville but now no longer made. His business plan leads to adventures, new friends, and a sense of acceptance. Tristan is a charmer; he’s earnest, loving, wistful, and practical, and he narrates his own tale without guile. But he is the only character so well defined—next to him, the supporting cast feels flat. The family is described as Jewish early on, but their Judaism is kept well to the background; the people of Petersville are white by default.

A bit disjointed and episodic, but Tristan is a likable companion. (recipes, business plan, acknowledgements) (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5541-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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