From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 5-9 -Zany, likable Gilda Joyce deserves a place right next to her inspiration, Harriet the Spy. Ever since her father died two years ago, Gilda has been working on sharpening her psychic skills, both in an attempt to communicate with him and to solve spooky mysteries. The summer before ninth grade, she invites herself to San Francisco to visit relatives she's never met who live in a brooding Victorian mansion, complete with a ghost in the tower. Lester Splinter, her distant cousin, seems to be hiding something about his sister's suicide years ago, and Gilda is determined to find out what it is, with the help of his lonely, hostile daughter who is her age. Gilda's bravery, bluntness, and willingness to try anything help bring Juliet out of herself. Her asides to her father, written on his old typewriter, are not only humorous; they also show her grief, longing, and love for him. The wacky wigs and costumes she dons will make readers giggle out loud, as will the inserted progress reports she writes of how well her investigations are going. Readers will feel the hair on the back of their necks rise over the predicaments she manages to get into and out of. Returning home at summer's end, Gilda is surprised that her mother has begun to date and her older brother, Stephen, is friendlier. They have all begun to heal from their loss. Let's hope Gilda also returns in another psychic mystery that needs her gutsy, brash attention.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
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*Starred Review* Gr. 5-7. Gilda Joyce, 13, lives in Michigan with her widowed mother. With her best friend at camp, Gilda decides she wants an adventure, so she writes to a distant relative, Mr. Splinter, and asks to spend the summer in San Francisco. Unknown to Gilda, Mr. Splinter has a daughter, Juliet, about Gilda's age. After arriving in town, Gilda learns that Juliet has been seeing the ghost of her aunt, who committed suicide. Gilda finds this especially exciting as she considers herself a psychic investigator. Allison pulls off something special here. She not only offers a credible mystery (What really happened to Aunt Meredith?) but also, by allowing readers inside the heads of both girls, provides particularly strong characterizations--much more substantial than the ubiquitous first-person narrative would have offered. Moreover, the recent death of Gilda's father and Juliet's psychological problems give the story a heft that elevates it above the typical middle-grade mystery or ghost story. Stylistically, the writing is occasionally over the top, but give this book high marks for substance. Ilene CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved