The Pickle King

Rebecca Promitzer, Author . Scholastic/Chicken House $17.99 (404p) ISBN 978-0-545-17087-1

Promitzer's debut doesn't quite live up to its lofty aspirations, but has plenty of hooks to grab readers. Eleven-year-old Bea, whose father is dead and whose mother is in an asylum, lives in the town of Elbow, where it rains “from May through September,” and the few kids not lucky enough to escape during the summer are forced by the school to hang out together. When Bea's friend Sam shows her a house with a dead body in it, it leads to a chain of events revolving around ghosts, underground trash-dwellers, a bag of stolen intestines, and a conspiracy involving local businesses. Bea, Sam and his dog, and three other kids deal with their share of scares, while (naturally) forming friendships that could transcend their different social statuses. Promitzer never quite manages to meld the wackiness of the town, the horror of the ghost and killings, and the realistic effects the assorted parental deaths and broken homes have on the children. Still, there are enough adventure elements—especially for readers with an appetite for grisly details—to make for an entertaining read. Ages 8–12. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/22/2010
Release date: 03/01/2010
Genre: Children's
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