Thursday, October 20, 2022

The Ghosts at Spruce Point

Tandon, Nancy. The Ghost of Spruce Point
August 2, 2022 by Aladdin 
Public library copy

Parker lives with his younger sister Bailey and his parents, who run a small motel, the Home Away From Home Inn. The inn is located in a remote area of Maine, and belonged to his grandmother. His parents quit their stressful jobs in the city to take it over. Parker is glad when summer comes around because it means that his best friend, Frankie, stays next door, and his cousins, Drake and Sylvie, visit more frequently when their mother drops off lobsters weekly. This summer, though, things aren't going as well. Not as many people are coming to the town as the water threatens to cut off the area, and local businesses are suffering. Parker feels that a cranky neighbor, Mrs. Gruvlig, has cursed the area because she is cranky and always complaining about the business that his parents run, but also feels that there might be a mysterious presence haunting his treehouse. He and Frankie, with Bailey and the cousins' help, come up with a plan to turn things around for the motel, and also leave a note for the ghost. The ghost replies and asks to meet them! 
Strengths: This had a very classic feel to it, and the idea of a summer in a remote resort community has a lot of appeal. Bar Harbor and the Acadia National Park are both beautiful areas. The parents' struggles with the business are realistic, and Parker has some good ideas, like his mother running cooking classes. The friendship with Frankie, and with Parker's cousins, is quite fun, and the group is given enough freedom to get into a tiny bit of trouble when investigatin the mystery. Tandon, whose The Way I Say It came out not too long ago, is a solid writer who creates excellent settings and characters. 
Weaknesses: My students want all ghosts to be murderous, so might not consider this scary enough. I wasn't a fan of the reason Mrs. Gruvlig was so mean; she came around, but had the same sort of background as Mr. Biederman in Glaser's The Vanderbeekers
What I really think: This is similar in feel to Markell's The Ghost in Apartment 2R Oppel's Ghostlight, and Key's Twelfth; there's a bit of history, a light mystery, and ghosts that aren't particularly scary. The real terror comes with the idea of losing the motel, and Parker's brush with the supernatural (as well as come affects of climate change revealing a hidden historical graveyard) manages to save the day. 

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