Book Buzz: Holiday Reading You Never Expected

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Green Glass House
How I became a Ghost
I am a Hat

Book Buzz: Holiday Reading You Never Expected

by Lucie Smoker

Under tinsel, wrapping paper and bows, the kids will find magic, wisdom and … uh, tumbleweed?

Holiday mystery: Greenglass House by Kate Milford

“Being surprised isn’t always a bad thing,” says Mrs. Nora Pine when the guest bell rings like a gulp of cold air. On this first snowy day of Christmas vacation 12-year-old Milo Pine would rather do nothing, creatively. Now he has to cater to guests at the family hotel. Greenglass House is a ramshackle manor inn uphill from a harbor town built half on land, half on piers. It draws mostly smugglers. Nobody comes this time of year.

But today that guest bell keeps ringing, and ringing. As the hotel fills up with five suspects—I mean guests—Milo notices things. Like the boring-looking man’s extremely heavy suitcase. Or one woman with blue hair’s reaction to finding out she isn’t the only visitor:

“Georgie stopped dead in the act of pulling up her woolen socks and gave Mrs. Pine the oddest look Milo had ever seen. It was as if her face was divided in half: the bottom part was all innocent smile, but the top half was wide-eyed in unmistakable disbelief.”

With so many guests, the Pines call in their regular cook who brings her daughters so now Milo has a friend in tow, the shy but clever Meddy.

Overnight, possessions begin to disappear. In a secret game, Milo and Meddy take on RPG character roles to investigate. A little bit creepy with a while lotta wonderment, Greenglass House comes with my highest rec. (And I didn’t even mention the tram.) Try reading it together as a family.

An Oklahoma Picture Book: That is a Hat by Betty Selakovich Casey

That southwester’ blew in something the animals have never seen. Some of them think it’s a highfalutin’ tumbleweed, others attribute all sorts of uses to this rancher’s hat brought in by the wind. Both written and illustrated by an Okie mom and editor of TulsaKids, this book inspires creative thinking as it entertains. Reverence for animals, the outdoors, and the American West shine through the artwork. Published by Oklahoma’s Roadrunner Press.

Middle Grade Time Travel: Mark of the Spider by Cara Brookins

Jordan Booker pissed off the wrong Time Ranger. Namor says:

“Say the words time travel and one idiot or another will start an argument about changing the past. Some argue it’s impossible to change and others argue a change could be catastrophic. These are not subtle differences. If the first case were true, nothing I did would stop Jordan Booker from killing my parents. In the case of the second, stopping him could destroy millions of people— or even the entire human race.”

Now Jordan and his sister, Jada, are living in Arkansas, present day. They’re trying for a fun day at the festival when someone kidnaps them. Jordan’s thinking this can’t be as bad as the time travel monsters he’s faced in the past, but then there’s a loud pop and everything changes.

Mark of the Spider is the third installment of The Time Shifters series from Edmond’s Buzz Books USA.

How I Became a Ghost: A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story by Tim Tingle

Don’t tell the kids that this book has won multiple awards and that it shares an important, relevant story from our history. That will put them to sleep. Instead, hide this book in a stocking—right under the candy—open it on Christmas morning, and start sharing the art of a great story:

“Maybe you have never read a book written by a ghost before. I am a ghost. I am not a ghost when this book begins, so you have to pay very close attention. I should tell you something else. I see things before they happen. You are probably thinking, “I wish I could see things before they happen.” Be careful what you wish for…”

Isaac,10, sees people burning one minute, then they are fine the next. He hears his parents whispering of ‘Treaty Talk’ and moving from their home. He watches tribal elders performing a ritual, rubbing their backs against trees until they bleed.

And Tingle’s words sing. If you ever wanted a truly great “ghost story,” this one will captivate your child’s imagination with mystical intrigue. It’s survival, selfless love and community all spelled out on white pages that cast a spell between the black words. Yes, black at times but not too dark for your middle-schooler, How I Became a Ghost enthralls on every page. Thank you Tim Tingle for this Oklahoma masterpiece.

Lucie Smoker is an Oklahoma suspense author and freelance writer. Find more of her work at luciesmoker.wordpress.com

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