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Among the Ghosts Hardcover – August 31, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-So that he can explore the Appalachians, Noleen Maypother's scientist father sends her off to her Aunt Clara's for the summer-apparently without checking his sister's availability first. Noh arrives to find a vacant house and decides to take the train to New Newbridge, where her other aunt teaches at the academy. Since Noh will be a sixth grader there in the fall, it seems a logical solution. Aunt Sarah welcomes her and helps her get settled into the old boarding school. But as soon as she arrives, strange things start happening: she meets other children around the ruins of the burned-out West Wing and discovers that they are the ghosts of former students and that she is the only "realie" who can see them. And when her ghost friends start to disappear, it is up to her to solve the mystery and help the ghosts who are left. Benson incorporates some creative ingredients but fails to combine them in a satisfying way. The characters are two-dimensional, the dialogue is stilted, and the plotline so far-fetched and meandering that even the ghosts and the "nasty thing" that lurks in the background will fail to keep most students' attention. Occasional black-and-white drawings are scattered throughout and add nothing to the story. Readers with an interest in the paranormal are better directed to books by Mary Downing Hahn or to Elizabeth Cody Kimmel's "Suddenly Supernatural" series (Little, Brown).-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Eleven-year-old Noleen-Anne (Noh) arrives at her new boarding school before the start of the school year, but she doesn’t lack for company. She befriends a bevy of ghosts only she can see, and discovers that a great evil roams the burnt-out shell of the school’s west wing. Noh’s ethereal friends begin to disappear one by one, and the trail leads to a whopper of an experiment in the basement of the ruined building. This is an ambitious tale involving friendships, aphid farming, and generating electricity, just to name a few of the many plot particulars. As such, too many details and tangents overload what is otherwise a solid ghost story into a jumble, and the few black-and-white line drawings sprinkled throughout the text seem more incidental than integral. However, sympathetic characters such as Noh and her spectral friends will save it for some, while the short chapters move the action along at a good pace. The spooky subject matter makes it likely to circulate as well. Grades 4-6. --Cindy Welch
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This is a quick paced adventure with fully developed characters and a well thought out plot. Lessons in bravery, social interaction and perspective are told without being preachy or bogging down the narrative flow. There are short "intermissions" if you will, from a malevolent entity throughout the tale that, while initially seemed jarring, ultimately added a layer of suspense and creepiness to the story. Although it's been a long while since reading books for this age group, (I'm currently surrounded by kids under 5,) AMONG THE GHOSTS reminds me of the fantastic GOOSEBUMPS series by R.L. Stine.
I would also like to mention the amazing illustrations throughout the book by Sina Grace. The black and white drawings add a nice visual layer to the story. I especially like the sketch of Noh in the cemetery. You really get a sense of the serenity Noh feels being among the ghosts. It's also worth noting, for YA readers above this age group, there is a connection between Noh and the New Newbridge Academy with the author's Calliope-Reaper Jones series. Hopefully, the adventures of Noh and her ghostly pals will continue. I'm interested in finding out what happens when the "realies" come back to school.
Noleen-Anne Harris Morgan Maypother, better known as Noh, is a strange little girl who likes her time to herself; her inquisitive and investigative nature makes her wiser beyond her years, and it seems like fate when she ends up visiting and staying with her aunt who works at the gothic and enchanting New Newbridge Academy. Noh arrives early before the start of school where there are only teachers and no students yet to walk its high, echoing halls. But this is a dream come true to her: a giant empty school, like an ancient castle, asking to be explored, filled with mysteries and enigmas.
And then there's the West Wing, which mysteriously burned down. As Noh gets to know some of the teachers, she also meets some kids her own age, which shouldn't be possible since classes haven't started yet. It doesn't take Noh long to realize that these kids are actually all ghosts. The really strange thing is that you should only be able to see ghosts if you are one too. And then there's something that seems to be taking the ghosts, making them disappear for good.
Amber Benson seems to have found a perfect niche with Among the Ghosts, using a simple but descriptive and colorful language style that will keep any reader hooked and interested, as well as providing a compelling mystery that serves to compel her protagonist to find out what's going on, as well as force the reader to keep reading until the very last page.
Originally written on October 6 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.
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This is a fun and entertaining story about a girl with a strange family legacy who is thrust into a mysterious new place when her dad is off on his own adventure. While she's staying with her aunt at the Academy, she's drawn into a mystery which has many facets and a very interesting and thought-provoking ending. I hope Noh has many more adventures! Highly recommended for kids of all ages.
The New Newbridge Academy Series: Among the Ghosts (1)
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