First off - where was Holly Black and novels like hers when I was of official Junior Fiction age??!!
This was my first Black novel and I'm impressed. She writes a great ghost story! There's just enough creepy mixed with just enough adventure to really pull kids in without going overboard and leaving them with nightmares (adults too, but let's not forget that the story was created for our kiddos)!
Zach, Poppy, and Alice are great friends and at the pre-teen age of 12, they are hanging tightly to their childhood roles - playing is still their main goal though they each know that could change in an instant.
This novel touches on the transition we all make during childhood. When dolls and make believe and adventure become a thing of the past. I think we've all probably also wondered where it went and how we lost it so easily. In this book, Black explores that notion and combats it as well. We can grow up, but still hang on to our imagination, our creativity, our adventures!
There are many transitional lessons here - between friends, family members, internal struggles, and I think kids will unwittingly learn a few things about themselves and about growing up without every feeling like they are indeed learning because the novel is at its core FUN from the first page. Pirates, creepy dolls, mean dads, overprotective grandmas, and resilient and loyal friends - they're all here and they are all written in an authentic voice that kids will relate to and enjoy (again, adults too - this is really a fun and adventurous book)!
Can't wait to read more Holly Black (I have an ARC of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown waiting patiently for me)!
Find this and much more at Read, Run, Ramble