Ghost Girl

Katherine Tegen Bks/HarperCollins/. Aug. 2021. 288p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780063044609.
Gr 3-7–Zee Puckett, who is white, loves to tell scary stories. After a stormy night, she convinces her best friend Elijah, a young Black boy, to go with her to explore the cemetery and listen to her latest tale. While there, they discover that more has blown into town with the storm than a few branches. They are chased by hounds that talk and have blood dripping from their eyes. Their new principal Mr. Scratch seems to know too much about people’s darkest fears. And Zee has the ability to see ghosts, just like her late mother did. Principal Scratch somehow convinces the townspeople to visualize what they really want in life. When these things come to pass, Zee, Elijah, and Zee’s bully Nellie are the only ones who recognize that they are illusions and the people are worse off, not better. The three understand that Principal Scratch is very dangerous, and stopping him is a matter of life and death. Zee is a likable character, and readers will root for her. There are some moments of symbolism that are never explained, which could cause some confusion but most likely will just add to the fright. This is not for young readers who say they want a scary story but actually mean they want suspense or an adrenaline rush with a ghost or two.
VERDICT This is a chilling story that will delight upper elementary readers who enjoy truly creepy books.

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