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Laurie A Cameron

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The Ghoist at Old Oak Way
by Laurie A Cameron  Laura Meagher 

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Publisher:  Untapped Talent LLC ISBN-10:  0982083416


Copyright:  6/1/2009 ISBN-13:  9780982083413

Acorn Mysteries

Eliza Hamilton sees people that others don't, finds strange messages and clues, but the most exciting part is the hidden room she discovers in the back of the bookshop.It is an exciting and mysterious adventure young readers will enjoy.

Eliza is seeing things, but what she hears shakes her to the core. The Bookshop has been in her family since before the Civil War and now it s in financial trouble. Strange things are happening ... Eliza receives mysterious messages, stumbles across obscure clues, and finds hidden spaces in The Bookshop. When a creepy man starts popping up in unexpected places, she knows not to trust him. When Eliza learns he is planning to buy The Bookshop, she becomes more suspicious, convinced there is something in the family shop worth finding. It's up to three seventh graders, Eliza, her best friend Melinda, and the new kid Simon, to unravel the mystery and save The Bookshop.

Halloween night arrived clear and cold. A full moon had risen over Alexandria. It was an ominous orange color, perfect for an evening such as this, washing the streets with its pale illumination. Stars twinkled brightly overhead. Along the streets, goblins and witches and ghosts scampered from house to house, as their parents followed at a more leisurely pace.

This was the first year that Eliza and Melinda were allowed to go out alone on Halloween. They had to promise, cross their hearts and hope to die, etc., etc., that they would be careful, visit only houses that they knew, watch out for cars—all those things that parents worry about. The deciding factor for the parents was Harlow, the Hamilton’s basset hound. He would accompany them. Eliza thought he posed absolutely no threat; she had yet to learn just ho
w protective he could really be.

As they were getting ready, Melinda had been up to her usual antics. She peered into the mirror. The face staring back at her had a green complexion, a long hooked nose with a hairy wart on its end, and thick black eyebrows—stage make-up she had borrowed from the drama department at school. She drew her black hat over the long gray hair of her wig and turned to Eliza, “And now, my precious,” she said, pointing her finger with its long green nail, “give me those ruby slippers.”

“Oh, please, not my ruby slippers,” whimpered Eliza. Indeed, Eliza did have on a pair of red shoes, but not exactly Dorothy’s dainty slippers. They were sneakers chosen for a lot of walking in the dark. From her feet up, Eliza was dressed as a rodeo clown in over-sized ragged clothing and red suspenders that she and Melinda had found at the Goodwill shop. To complete her costume, she had tucked an old bandana into her back pocket. Her face was painted white, with a very large red mouth, exaggerated eyebrows, and a bulbous nose. Her hair was covered with an orange curly wig they found at a dollar store.

They stared at each other and giggled. Then they opened Eliza’s bedroom door, ready to set out. Just as Eliza started to pull her door closed, she paused and grabbed up her shiny button. For some reason, she had gotten into the habit of carrying it around with her for good luck. Now she tucked it into a deep pocket of her clown trousers.

Professional Reviews

Amanda Lynch, The Children’s Book Review
The Ghost at Old Oak Way, the debut novel by Laurie Cameron and Laura Meagher, is an exciting read that keeps you guessing until the very end. The follow-the-clues mystery is combined with an interweaving of Civil War History and elements of the supernatural which make it difficult to put the book down. I certainly had a hard time!

Eliza and her family live in Alexandria, Virginia. They are proprietors of The Bookshop: a cozy bookstore which has been in their family since the Civil War. Eliza is a fun and endearing heroine: while not always the best at school, she is a hard worker and has a very kind heart, as manifested by her willingness to welcome Simon, the new kid at school, into her friend group. What makes Eliza special, though, is that she also has inherited a quirk unique to her family: she can see the ghosts of her ancestors, and they are trying to tell her something.

So in the midst of trying to get schoolwork done, spending time with her best friend, Melinda, and helping out around The Bookshop, Eliza finds herself face-to-face with a mystery: what are the ghosts trying to tell her? She finds clues and hidden spaces in her family’s store, but isn’t quite sure what they mean until she finds out that her parents may lose the business. With the help of the ghosts, will Eliza be able to help save her family’s store?

I really think this is a timely book: the reality is Eliza’s story could relate to a lot of children nowadays, whose parents might be worried about losing their jobs, their business, their houses. It’s also a powerful tale of family banding together to weather the hard times. The book itself would also be a fun read-aloud for the family, as adults will enjoy the fast-paced writing and adept attention to detail. As to the story itself, the content is appropriate for ages 9 and up.

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