Book Review: Took, A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn

Oct 17

Daniel and his sister Erica, along with their mother and father move to rural West Virginia.  Life is turned upside down for the family.  Mom and dad had stable jobs; they lived in a nice home in a well to do community.  Now, they live in a run down farm house.  Daniel and Erica are completely out of place at school.



One day Daniel hears a story about a witch named Old Auntie and a girl that disappeared years ago from the same farmhouse he now lives in.  Strange things soon start happening.  Erica receives a mysterious doll.  She retreats to her room, staying alone with just the doll.   Mom and dad become unhappy. Dad shuts himself in his work room to play video games on his computer.  Mom is tired and has fits of anger.  Home cooked meals and the plans to renovate the house are replaced with cheap take out pizza and a constant mess.   Mom and dad don’t seem to care anymore.  Erica only talks to her doll.  The kids at school tease Daniel. Everything is a mess for Daniel.

And then, the unthinkable happens.  Erica disappears, and Daniel is blamed for not taking better care of her.  Daniel has to decide if the stories about Old Auntie are true or not.  If they are true, Daniel must risk everything to save his sister.

If you like creepy ghost stories, you’ll love “Took, A Ghost Story.

Read More

Happy Birthday Shel Silverstein

Sep 25

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
― Shel Silverstein 09/28/1930 to 05/10/1999



Read More

Book Review: I Text Dead People, by Rose Cooper

Sep 19

Annabel Craven has moved to a new town.  All she wants to do is fit in with the rest of the students at the Acadamy.  Without a cell phone of her own, and living in her Uncle’s old musty house next to the cemetery are making it hard for her.   But when Annabel finds a cell phone in the woods, she thinks one of her problems is solved.

It doesn’t take long until she receives her first text, and it’s not from someone living.   Annabel is not sure what will happen if she answers, will it get rid of the ghost or only make things worse?  Annabel continues to get texts and mysterious visits all which make her life as the new girl in town miserable.

Any middle grader who loves a good ghost story will enjoy reading Annabel’s plight.   “I Text Dead People” is just the first book in the series.  Book two “The Ungrateful Dead” is available now for your scary reading pleasure.



Read More

Book Review: Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech

Jul 25

Published in 2002, Ruby Holler still speaks to today’s middle grade reader.   Sharon Creech weaves a magical world with her homey laid back style of writing.   The reader is quickly wisked away into the story of orphan twins, Dallas and Florida.

I was hooked at the first few sentences:  “Dallas leaned far out the window, his eyes fixed on a bird flying lazily in the distance.  Sun slanted through the clouds above, as if a spotlight were aimed on the bird.”




Twins, Dallas and Florida live in the Boxton Creek Home for Children.   The Trepid’s have created so many rules, that the twins are destined to fail.   The twins are placed in many homes.  Due to no fault of their own they are returned to the home.

Dallas and Florida have given up and being wanted by a family when Sairy and Tiller show up.  Sairy and Tiller are an older couple whose children have already grown and left.  They’re looking for assistance for their summer adventures, Dallas and Florida are just the ticket.

That’s when we learn about the magical place, Ruby Holler.   When Dallas and Florida arrive they find a place beyond anything they could have imagined.   But, both are highly suspicious of everyone and everything, and they plan to leave on the first train they can hop.

The story of Dallas and Florida continue as they try to adjust to life in Ruby Holler.  There’s a mysterious character who shows up, plotting by the Trepids, a trial run of the adventure and an accident on the river.

Any young reader, boy or girl, will enjoy Ruby Holler and the magic that it holds.  In the back of the readers mind, always the question of wondering if Dallas and Florida will get to stay in Ruby Holler.





Read More

Quote of the Week – One Crazy Summer

Jul 22

“We all have our la-la-la song. The thing we do when the world isn’t singing a nice tune to us. We sing our own nice tune to drown out ugly.”
― Rita Williams-Garcia, One Crazy Summer @OneCrazyRita13692644_1001985489918479_1416009844302719439_n

Read More

Middle Grade Book Review – The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Jun 22

After the recent killing of Harambe the Gorilla at the Cincinnati zoo, I was reminded of  one of my favorite books, “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate.



Katherine’s story of Ivan, a gorilla living on display at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade is a poignant look inside his life.    Ivan’s story is told by Ivan himself, in short verses.  True to Katherine Applegates style, I was drawn in by Ivan immediately.  I felt for him as he remembered bits and pieces of the past and how he came to live on display.

Ivan’s point of view also guides the reader through his present life,  of humans gaping at him, his art, his friend the elephant Stella and Bob a stray dog.  It’s not until a baby elephant arrives, Ruby, that Ivan begins to see and want to make a change.  He knows that their lives could all be better.  But how?

“The One and Only Ivan” has some stark realities that may be new to the reader, in the end, Ivan succeeds in his  wish of a better life for himself and all his friends.   Ivan will make the reader cry and laugh, get angry and think about change and how we can make things better.




Read More

Young Adult Book Review – Wandering Wild by Jessica Taylor

Jun 15

Author Jessica Taylor, has crafted an amazing tale in her Young Adult novel, “Wandering Wild.” It’s a story of family, love, hopes and dreams and sometimes doing something painful to be where you need to be.

Wandering Wild

Wandering Wild

The characters Jessica created are likable and real. Talia “Tal” and her brother Wen belong to a family of Wanderers, where they’ve learned to live by cons and scams. Tal, wants more. She wants to wander on her own, travel to places a Wanderer would never go. But she’s got two problems:

1) She’s been bought and paid for, and her groom comes calling for her.

2) She fell in love with a Markie, a non-wanderer. Unknowingly, Tal has set in motion a chain of events that can’t be undone.

I never like to give away and ending, so you’ll have to read it for yourself to see if Tal adheres to the Wanderer’s life and goes with the man who bought and paid for her, or go the way of the Markies?

You can get a copy of your own here:

Barnes and

Read More