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As a mother's education increases, so does the likelihood that her child is read to every day. In 1999, 70 percent of ... More

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Author: Angie Sage

Illustrator: Jimmy Pickering

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Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers,

Material: hard cover

Summary: Araminta's birthday isn't going to be any fun. Uncle Drac and Aunt Tabby are going away, and her best friend Wanda's parents are going with them. Araminta and Wanda thought it was awful that Great Aunt Emilene would be their sitter, but when she is delayed things get worse: Nurse Watkins will watch them! But their luck turned when Mathilda, not Emilene got out of the hearse the next morning! This was going to be great ... until they realized that Mathilda brought along trouble: Ned and Jed, teenage ghosts with mischief up their sleeves. With Ned and Jed destroying Spookie House and upsetting the ghosts, Araminta was worried. She needed a plan, but Mathilda and her supposed best-friend Wanda were plotting against her. This was the worst birthday ever! Or was it? This illustrated chapter book series for upper elementary kids offers mystery, suspense, and humor.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, independent reading, reluctant reader, remedial reader, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 7 to 10; read yourself: 10 and up

Interest Level: 8 to 13

Reading Level: 4.8

Age of Child: Read with and by an 8-year-old girl.

Young Reader Reaction: "This was awesome" was the response we received when we closed the book. Over the two weeks it took us to read the book, there were lots of "uh-ohs" and giggles along the way. There were several nights our daughter asked if she could stay up later to keep reading. This is a book our daughter is recommending to her friends.

Adult Reader Reaction: This is a clever story and lots of fun to read aloud. The chapters are fairly long, so some nights we only got one in. There are lessons within the story (responsibility, friendship, jumping to conclusions), but it's mostly adult-free fun. It has a Halloween feel to it, but I wouldn't call it a seasonal book. This is book 5 in the series, but our first title. We didn't feel like we'd missed something by not reading the other books.

Pros: Kids will enjoy this story about a young girl who lives in a house with ghosts. This is a series that reads like individual stories.

Cons: None.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is a fun story to read aloud. This is one that kids will find hard to put down!

If You Liked This Book, Try: SEPTIMUS HEAP: MAGYK (Book One)   GHOST FILES: THE HAUNTING TRUTH   THE BLUE MOON EFFECT (Extreme Monsters, #1)

Educational Themes: This is a great story for engaging dormant readers and those who are moving away from heavily illustrated books. There are themes of friendship and personal responsibility, as well as helping a neighbor and the perils of jumping to conclusions.

Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level 5.3
The publisher donated a copy of this book to the Reading Tub, Inc. This is an unsolicited donation.

Literary Categories: Fiction - mystery, ghost story, middle grade series

Date(s) Reviewed: November 2009

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