Vannie Taylor, a sixth-grader, is dealing with quite a bit right now. Not only is she still grieving over the death of her mother, but also her father can’t seem to be able to continue living in their house because everywhere he turns, it reminds him of his deceased wife. So he decides to move his family to a very small cottage where he works at Merrymount Gardens. He is so consumed over his job and the loss of his wife, that he practically leaves the responsibility on Vannie to care for herself and her younger brother, Robby, who is seven-years-old. The first day they move into the cottage, while the father heads to a work meeting, Robby takes a nap. Vannie is bored and lonely, so she heads outside to go sit on a nearby bench. It’s there that she meets up with Archie and things become very interesting rather quickly.
My heart broke for this family because they were quickly spiraling into becoming a dysfunctional one. The father wrapped himself around work and he basically pushed the responsibility of taking care of Robby onto his eleven-year-old daughter. I felt that he needed someone to sit him down and talk some serious sense into him. I felt the story, because of the topic it was wrapped around, was pretty heavy at times and because of this, it made it move a bit slower than I had hoped it would for me. There were some lighter moments, though, in which the kids did or said something funny or even when Archie did his crazy cartwheels when he saw Vannie, which I just couldn’t help but chuckle. This is definitely geared toward middle graders and the publisher has listed it for grade 6-8. Overall, it was a good story that helped me pass the time.
Sixth-grader Vannie Taylor’s mom has just died. Her father, completely lost without his wife, brings Vannie and her younger brother to live in a dismal cottage on the estate where he manages craft fairs, dinners, and other events. When strange events start happening around the estate, Vannie decides to investigate, and soon discovers a ghost who wants her to help him make amends for something in his past. Vannie’s life is starting to get back to normal, but in a way she’s never imagined.
Recommended for grades 6-8.