Thursday, January 14, 2021

Karma Moon, Ghost Hunter

Savage, Melissa. Karma Moon, Ghost Hunter
January 19th 2021 by Crown Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Karma and her father are on their own after her mother runs off with five suitcases to live life on a beach with a new friend. Karma's father makes documentaries with two of his friends, who form Totally Rad Productions. They have made a pitch to Netflix about a ghost hunting show that gets picked up, and before they know it, Karma is staying at a haunted hotel in Colorado with her dad's film crew and her best friend, Mags. The hotel seems safe enough, but Karma has struggled with anxiety since her mother's departure, and the "what ifs" swirl in her brain. She carries a Magic 8 ball with her and believes strongly in what her father calls "woo-woo". On the upside, she has been seeing Dr. Finkleman, who has given her coping techniques to deal with her anxiety. The hotel has a colorful staff, including a boy whom Mags likes, a gift shop proprietor who has been there since 1972, a cleaning person named Ruby Red, and a progression of managers, who all seem to depart in dramatic ways. After the departure of the latest (Mr. Plum, who left in an Uber... while clad only in his underwear!), the film crew, along with a certified ghost expert, try to document the hauntings in order to make the show. Will Karma be able to get through the time while managing her anxiety, dealing with the thoughts about her mother, and hanging out with the interesting Nyx?
Strengths: This is on trend with current depiction of children with anxiety, and I did like that Karma saw Dr. Finkleman frequently, had a range of coping strategies, and her friend Mags not only knew about this, but often reminded Karma to call upon those strategies. Probably also a good idea that Karma shouldn't watch Dateline OR Scooby-Doo! Living in a hotel for ten days would be a lot of fun, and filming a documentary for Netflix only adds to the excitement. This had much the same kind of feel of Bradley's Midnight at the Barclay Hotel, Guterson's Winterhouse, or even Milford's Greenglass House
Weaknesses: I wasn't a huge fan of all the quirky hotel staff. 
What I really think: This was a fun ghost story that wasn't too scary, and would be great for grades 3-6. My own students have proven to be much more interested in truly scary things, so I wished this had been a bit scarier, like Poblocki's The Ghost Hunter's Daughter or even Currie's Scritch Scratch. For the type of hotel book my students like, look no further than Balog's Alone
Ms. Yingling

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