Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Scritch Scratch

Currie, Lindsay. Scritch Scratch
1 September 2020 by Sourcebooks
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Claire is a little embarrassed by her parents-- her mom runs a baking business, JuliCakes, out of their home, and her father runs a Haunted Chicago tour company. He takes people around the city to different creepy sites on a bus, and Claire has no interest in any of it. When the bus driver and her older brother Sam are unavailable to help, Claire is pressed to step in to take tickets, monitor the bus, and generally help out. She would rather be working on her science fair project, but doesn't want her father to lose out on income, so reluctantly goes along. At one point, she thinks she sees a young boy alone on the bus, but it turns out to be much more sinister than that. The boy is a ghost who won't leave her alone, flooding her dresser drawers, lurking outside of her room scratching at the door, and even following her to school and causing a flood in the restroom. Of course, the flooding her brother Sam witnesses, which makes them call their parents home suddenly, isn't something her parents can see! Claire is understandably spooked, but doesn't know quite what to do. Sam believes her and tries to help, and she eventually reaches out to her best friend, Casley. Things have been difficult with Casley ever since new girl Emily has befriended her. Emily's life isn't easy, however, and it turns out that she and her mother have moved in with relatives, and Claire's crush Warner is Emily's cousin. Claire knows that this ghost wants something from her, and will haunt her until she finds a way to put him at ease. The answers come from some forgotten Chicago history, and encourage Claire to help with her father's research.
Strengths: This is an excellent ghost story, but also has some great historical aspects as well as key concerns for middle school students. All ghosts should be slightly murderous, and this one, with his damp, wordlessly insistent hauntings, was perfect. Claire's relationship with her parents was great; they are both involved and supportive, but somewhat embarrassing, and she ultimately likes spending time with them. I also appreciated that her brother was her biggest ally. Don't see that a lot, and I enjoyed it. The friend drama with Casley and Emily-- Every. Single. Day. in middle school. However, middle grade lit isn't overflowing with instances where friends look critically at what is going on, examine the background and motivation of new friends, or reconcile, so I really liked that part!
Weaknesses: The title and the cover could be better.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing. This will be a big hit with fans of Ellen Oh's Spirit Hunters and White's Nightbooks.
Ms. Yingling

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