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From the Haunted Museum series , Vol. 1

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

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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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From the Ryan Hart series , Vol. 2

The second installment in this spirited series is a hit.

A new baby coming means Ryan has lots of opportunities to grow love.

Ryan has so much to look forward to this summer—she is going to be a big sister, and she finally gets to go to church camp! But new adventures bring challenges, too. Ryan feels like the baby is taking forever to arrive, and with Mom on bed rest, she isn’t able to participate in the family’s typical summer activities. Ryan’s Dad is still working the late shift, which means he gets home and goes to bed when she and her older brother, Ray, are waking up, so their quality daddy-daughter time is limited to one day a week. When the time for camp finally arrives, Ryan is so worried about bugs, ghosts, and sharing a cabin that she wonders if she should go at all. Watson’s heroine is smart and courageous, bringing her optimistic attitude to any challenge she faces. Hard topics like family finances and complex relationships with friends are discussed in an age-appropriate way. Watson continues to excel at crafting a sense of place; she transports readers to Portland, Oregon, with an attention to detail that can only come from someone who has loved that city. Ryan, her family, and friends are Black, and occasional illustrations by Mata spotlight their joy and make this book shine.

The second installment in this spirited series is a hit. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0058-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 2

Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage...

This sequel to The Lemonade War (2007), picking up just a few days later, focuses on how the fourth graders take justice into their own hands after learning that the main suspect in the case of the missing lemonade-stand money now owns the latest in game-box technology.

Siblings Evan and Jessie (who skipped third grade because of her precocity) are sure Scott Spencer stole the $208 from Evan’s shorts and want revenge, especially as Scott’s new toy makes him the most popular kid in class, despite his personal shortcomings. Jessie’s solution is to orchestrate a full-blown trial by jury after school, while Evan prefers to challenge Scott in basketball. Neither channel proves satisfactory for the two protagonists (whose rational and emotional reactions are followed throughout the third-person narrative), though, ultimately, the matter is resolved. Set during the week of Yom Kippur, the story raises beginning questions of fairness, integrity, sin and atonement. Like John Grisham's Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer (2010), much of the book is taken up with introducing courtroom proceedings for a fourth-grade level of understanding. Chapter headings provide definitions  (“due diligence,” “circumstantial evidence,” etc.) and explanation cards/documents drawn by Jessie are interspersed.

Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage with the characters enough to care about how the justice actually pans out. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-27967-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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