Thursday, April 27, 2023

Ghosts, Toasts, and Other Hazards

Tan, Susan. Ghosts, Toasts, and Other Hazards 
April 25, 2023 by Roaring Brook Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Monica Lin (who likes to be called Mo), her mother, and younger sister CeCe have lost their home and moved in with her mother's Uncle Ray. After CeCe's father (whom Mo called S-Dad) left, Mo's mother had a hard time paying the bills, and is now looking for another job in their new location. Uncle Ray considers himself an aging Chinese hippie, and puts a lot of interesting vegetables into all the food that he serves. Mo is leery of people at school, and runs afoul of Peter, who claims he owns the school, but makes a tentative friendship with Nathaniel. The two usually hide in the library at lunch, and develop a shared interest in a historical fire in a traveling circus that happened in New Warren and resulted in the death of an elephant, Maudie. Mo is very worried about a lot of things, especially fire, since there was a significant fire in her house caused by a toasted oven the day that S-Dad moved out. Uncle Ray's house is very near the local junk yard, where Maudie was supposedly buried, and Mo realizes that the ghost of Maudie is haunting the area. Since Nathaniel is serious about a career as a paranormal investigator, the two are soon investigating the history of the circus, the town, and the family behind all of the problems. Will Mo be able to put Maudie's spirit to rest and also get help for her own trauma?
Strengths: I really liked the New Warren setting, and especially Uncle Ray. I think there are a lot of young readers who end up living with relatives for extended periods of time, and there aren't as many books that include this. I also thought that Mo's emotions concerning S-Dad, and the fact that he didn't have any contact with her when he left, were worth exploring. Mo and Nathaniel make a good investigative pair, and Nathaniel's ties to Peter are realistic. I was glad to see that Mo's family problems were talked about, and that she and her mother got some help. Uncle Ray was so much fun, and I enjoyed the scenes where he was trying to help Mo make sense of the world. 
Weaknesses: I always question a school library that allows students to hide from the librarian and eat lunch. It's so busy in my library, and I'm so careful to know where all the students are that it always bothers me. 
What I really think: This is a good choice for readers who like some ghosts mixed in with mental health issues in books like Urban's Almost There and Almost Not, Malinenko's This Appearing House, or Arnold's The House That Wasn't There

No comments:

Post a Comment