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Summary: Josie's family spends every summer in an old "company town" as part of her father's academic research. This year, in Whtiner, Josie gets to help, too. When she meets Lucy, she discovers that her new friend needs help, too. This is a chapter book that is part ghost story, part mystery, and part what-did-you-learn-on-your-summer-vacation!
Type of Reading: family reading, read aloud book, middle grade reader, advanced reader
Recommended Age: read together: 9 to 12; read yourself: 10 and up
Interest Level: 9 to 12
Age of Child: Read by an 11-year-old girl.
Young Reader Reaction: The 11-year-old reader found the book somewhat boring. Although she liked the ghost story aspect, she was not surprised when one of the main characters turned out to be a ghost. She felt the story to be very predictable.
Adult Reader Reaction: I will confess: even with it's predictability, I couldn't put it down. I read the book in one sitting and went to bed later than I should have! This is an enjoyable read that I'll probably pick up again.
Pros: The story moves quickly, and the writing is clear, albeit awkward at times. The imagery and mystery blend well, making it a story where you can follow along with Josie and Lucy.
Cons: It might have been nice to have a map of Whitner for visual readers. Some may find the plot troubling, as Josie and her brother entice the two-time murderer back into Whitner by themselves.
Borrow or Buy: Buy! This is a fun, wholesome read. There is enough suspense to keep you reading, but not so much as to leave you scared or fearful.
Educational Themes: The story debunks traditional myths of ghosts, and looking past it, there are opportunities to talk about compassion, empathy, and taking responsibility for one's actions.
Literary Categories: Fiction - mystery, crime
Date(s) Reviewed: May 2005
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