cover image Ghost Girl

Ghost Girl

Ally Malinenko. HarperCollins/Tegen, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-304460-9

Living with her older sister while their father looks for work, 11-year-old Zee Puckett loves exploring her sleepy mountain town’s graveyard and telling scary stories, especially to her best (and only) friend, Elijah. When Zee encounters a ghost on a school library trip, mean girl Nellie begins calling her “Ghost Girl,” a name that becomes even more apropos when Zee realizes that she can see and talk to specters, just like her late mother could. A particularly cruel run-in with Nellie leads to a physical fight that attracts the attention of their school’s new arrival, Principal Scratch, a sinister, pale-skinned man attired in all black who wears a single red glove. After Scratch visits the homes of Elijah, Nellie, and Zee, encouraging each to visualize “what you desire most,” the trio finds themselves targeted by terrifying, otherworldly dogs, amid other strange occurrences. Briefly raising themes of body positivity and feminism, debut author Malinenko writes an atmospheric tale that is rife with chilling moments and an affecting exploration of grief, but underdeveloped characters and a swift, tidy ending lessen its impact. Zee and Nellie are white; Elijah is Black. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Rena Rossner, the Deborah Harris Agency. (Aug.) [/em]