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All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
Ascender, Volume 1: The Haunted Galaxy by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen
Dear Martin by Nic Stone Death by Tea by Alex Erickson
Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang
The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee
The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo
The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega
If da Vinci Painted a Dinosaur by Amy Newbold
Go to Sleep (I Miss You) by Lucy Knisley
Gone with the Whisker by Laurie Cass
The Haunting of Vancouver Island by Shanon Sinn
The Haunting on Heliotrope Lane by Carolyn Keene
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not by Robin Mayhall
Heartwood Hotel: Home Again by Kallie George
The Legend of Korra: Ruins of the Empire Part Three by Michael Dante DiMartino
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan
Lyle and the Birthday Party by Bernard Waber
Mimi Lee Gets a Clue by Jennifer J. Chow
Nate Expectations by Tim Federle
No Mallets Intended by Victoria Hamilton
Shadow of the Batgirl by Sarah Kuhn and Nicole Goux
Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim
This is Rome by Miroslav Sasek
The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Verse and Vengeance by Amanda Flower
We Are the Wildcats by Siobhan Vivian
When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri

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Ghost Squad: 04/25/20

Ghost Squad

Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega is a middle grade urban fantasy set in St. Augustine Florida. Lucely Luna, a Domican-American, and her father run a ghost tour. Recently business isn't good enough to keep up with the mortgage. Although it's been their family home for hundreds of years, the mortgage was taken out to make hurricane repairs. Lucely and her best-friend Sal will work together to save the house.

In the vast majority of middle grade fantasy novels I've read the protagonist starts ignorant of the magic around them, even if the rest of their family are working with magic, fighting monsters, busting ghosts, etc. Lucely and Sal, though, are different. From the very first page it's made clear that they are aware of the ghosts and magic in their city. Lucely's home is full of generations of family ghosts who also take the form of fireflies in the huge tree that is part of the yard. Meanwhile, Sal's grandmother is a known witch.

Since magic is known to both girls, no time is lost in introducing the second big threat to Lucely's life: the prophesy of a monster's arrival on the next big storm. Her only way of saving her ghostly ancestors and St. Augustine is to learn the history of Las Brujas Moradas.

With the St. Augustine's nautical history it's no surprise that the novel is peppered with Goonies references. That's including a magical cat named Chunk. There's treasure hunting in old cemeteries and other historical locations. There's also ghostbusting!

Lucely and Sal's adventures also fit into the road narrative spectrum. As with many POC narratives, the emphasis is on the family traveler (33). Here, family is stronger in the journey taken than any individual traveler. Lucely is traveling (albeit metaphorically as she never leaves her city) to save her family and with the help of her ghostly ancestors. Sal is traveling with this help of her grandmother.

Their destination is uhoria (or out of time) (CC). Here the uhoria is metaphorical, represented in a number of ways. First there are the ghosts of Lucely's ancestors. Next there is the history of St. Augustine which they research in search for a solution. Finally there is the treks to different cemeteries and other historical locations seeking spells and clues.

The route Lucely and Sal take is the Blue Highway (33). These are the established routes that aren't interstates or railroads. A quick look on Google Maps verifies that there are literally no interstates that go through the town. The narrative, though, also mentions nothing of the sort. Instead the roads are older, having grown along with the town over the decades.

All together, Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega can be summed up as being about family travelers going to uhoria via the Blue Highway.

Five stars

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