Thursday, August 19, 2021

Ghost Girl

Malinenko, Ally. Ghost Girl
August 10th 2021 by Katherine Tegen Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Zee Puckett lives with her older sister Abby, since her mother died when she was born and her father has gone to a different town looking for work. She loves ghost stories (she lives near the site of the fabled Headless Horseman), so when flooding causes a day off school, she grabs her best friend Elijah and heads to the local cemetery to see if any coffins have come to the surface. They haven't, but Zee gets a fright when she sees seriously spooky wolves. Elijah's family life is difficult as well; his mother is mysteriously ill and won't get out of bed although his father says she is fine, and his football playing father doesn't appreciate Elijah's scientific bent and encourages him to get more exercise. The town is cleaning up from the flooding, and the school is okay with one exception: both the principal and a kindergarten teacher are missing. The school hires a new principal with amazing alacrity, and soon Principal Scratch is going out of his way to "help" everyone with their worst fears. Abby, for example, starts getting phone calls from their incommunicado father... but no one is on the line. Elijah's mother is up and about... but Zee still spies her lying in bed. With help from former nemesis, Nellie, whose dog was missing, Zee and Elijah try to figure out the mysterious happenings in town, especially when they realize that the missing kindergarten teacher has most likely been killed. When they uncover information about Principal Scratch's true identity, will they be able to save their town from his influence?
Strengths: There are a lot of middle grade books with evil principals, but how many of them are quite THIS evil? I imagine that most adults will guess his identity, like I did, but younger readers won't be familiar with this name. There are lots of spooky elements to this: the cemetery, the dogs, and the unusual way that people are acting. There are some serious issues, as well, such as Elijah's mother's illness and Zee's guilt over her mother's death. My favorite part of the book was probably the change in relationship with Nellie, which was done in a very realistic way. Setting this in an area rich in creepy folklore was also a good call. 
Weaknesses: As an adult, I was not thrilled with Zee's attitude about keeping herself safe, especially since Abby was trying so hard to take care of her. Adults are the number one reason kids don't have adventures, so the target demographic will not mind this at all.
What I really think: This is a good spooky title similar to Lang and Bartkowski's Whispering Pines, Marshall's Thirteens, or Roberts' The Witches of Willow Cove.

It's curriculum night! This means I will bike home at 3:00 to get dinner for staff-- I live close to school, so I can have casseroles in crock pots and a lasagna in the oven. Teachers can get dinner, kick back a bit, pet Pongo, and then go back for the rest of the evening.

This navy dress from 1999 is washable and looks professional when paired with yet another Petite Sophisticate blazer from 2005. Subdued Liz Claibourne necklace and an apple pin that was my mother's. 

Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. the book sounds good, and I love the outfit!