Two girls travel to the past in search of answers about a new friend in this middle-grade novel.
When Wilhelmina “Willy” Snodgrass learns that her family plans to move from Illinois to Oregon, she is upset. On the brink of seventh grade (which Willy already figures is the worst), she predicts that it will ruin her life. Fortunately, that isn’t the case—Willy quickly makes friends with Tomasina “Tommy” Andretti, and, with the help of three ghosts, the girls help reopen the Willamette Wig Factory, a town landmark defunct since the 1970s. Just one question remains—who the heck is Harvey Stingle, the man who assisted them with the factory and who seems to be the main communication point for the ghosts? Tommy and Willy are determined to find out, and because Harvey won’t tell them himself, he sends them back to the late 1800s. As Tommy and Willy dive deeper into the history of their small town, they get closer to unraveling the mystery of Harvey. Is he friend or foe? Why can he talk to ghosts? Of course, the answer leads to a whole new adventure for the girls. The second in the Wilhelmina series, the work picks up about three months after the first ends, so there’s little lag time for fans. Dineen (Mimi Plus Two, 2016, etc.) began her career composing stories for adults, but her voice is right at home in middle-grade fiction, perfectly suited to the age she’s writing for. Many times authors can’t nail down just how kids speak, but the characters here sound like middle schoolers. It adds an authenticity to the work that can’t be faked. The plot is imaginative and complicated enough to hold the attention of older readers, and Dineen refuses to pad the tale with superfluous characters. The wholesome story and pacing are tight and precise, with tension and mystery ramping up as Tommy and Willy get closer to finding out Harvey’s identity. The recipes at the end are a lovely touch—hopefully, the time traveling and historical details that Tommy and Willy learn about Monteith, Oregon, will encourage readers to do some research of their own.
An impressive addition to a supernatural series that should delight a wide range of readers.