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{October 30, 2012}   {ARC Review} Legend of the Ghost Dog by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel

From Goodreads: A thrilling mystery set against a stark landscape and the inspiration of Nome’s real-life dog hero, Balto.

Twelve-year-old Tee has just moved to Nome, Alaska, with her writer father and sullen little brother, Jack. Jack isn’t happy about the idea of living in the middle of nowhere, but Tee and her dog Henry are thrilled — so much open space to run around and sniff!

But on a walk near their new house, Henry spots something that has him seriously spooked. Tee sees a mysterious shadow, and it seems to be following them. Have they disturbed a restless spirit? And what other secrets might this dark place be holding?

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This is a really cute MG, younger YA read that has just enough creepy elements to enthrall, while also warming the heart with its sound themes and motifs. The story flips back and forth between the past and present, remaining mostly in the present to expand on the story, but the added past information helps spur the reader on as they realize this isn’t just a ghost story, but a search for the grave of a missing child, as well. Now, that probably sounds morbid, and it is, but it’s presented in such a way that it isn’t going to give your kids nightmares (at least, I don’t think it will) and the mystery of it all really helps build the anticipation of the story.  Though not a child or younger teen, I really liked this novel and plan to put it on the Outside Reading Book List for my students as I think it’s a valuable story.  It’s simple, easy to read, interesting, and the characterization is great.  Tee and her brother are very life-like characters—I’m sure I’d be acting just like Jack if I were stranded in Alaska, and I truly enjoyed learning about Alaska, the characters, and the ghost dog as it all unfolded.  Kimmel did a great job and I’m looking forward to reading more by this author—hopefully something for a little older crowd.  Three and a half stars.

Scholastic Press has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on November 1, 2012.

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