Children’s Book Review: The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street 


The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street, by Lindsay Currie, is a middle-grade suspense novel that will give you chills and tickle your funny bone. In it, we meet seventh-grader Tessa and her quirky, artistic & loveable family. When her father’s new job with the Chicago Symphony moves them from Florida to Illinois, the novel embarks on a storyline that will be familiar to many readers: the upheaval of Tessa’s comfortable routine, leaving behind her best friend, and the tension of starting a new school in an unfamiliar place where she doesn’t know anyone. But what makes this story unique is its basis in a real Chicago ghost story in history, and because I grew up near Chicago, I remembered it. This made the experience of reading the novel even more fascinating for me, but the mysterious ways in which Currie drops clues will keep all readers interested.

Not long after Tessa and her family have moved into their Chicago home, a greystone that is over a hundred years old, she begins seeing and hearing unusual, creepy things. Her mother’s art supplies go inexplicably missing, there are mysterious drawings in her sketchpad, crying sounds in the night, and her brother’s ventriloquist dummy doll cries real tears. There is a goosebump chill factor to Currie’s writing that recalls R.L. Stine, and in fact there are small references in the book to 90s pop culture that seem to let readers know what the writer herself may have had experience with growing up. As an adult reader, these type of finds within a children’s book are delicious. For young readers, I imagine it could lead them to new and interesting things!

Beyond the excitement of things that go bump in the night, the strength of this novel is in its characters and their developing friendships. Tessa’s new friends – Andrew, Nina & Richie – each have unique personalities that spark off the page. In a book that could have focused completely on solving the mystery of Tessa’s haunted house, it also became a story about the importance of friendship. Tessa’s friends play an integral part in her journey of beginning a new school, learning to navigate a new city and helping her solve a mystery over a century old. Also deserving of a mention is that there is a girl who hangs a bit on the edges of Tessa’s new friendships – Cassidy, a girl who isn’t immediately welcoming and Tessa doesn’t know why. Though not given a lot of attention, this part of the story is important because it is through a challenging relationship like this that middle-grade readers will feel the story’s reality. Middle school is tough,. Making new friends is tough. Understanding our differences is….really tough. But, as Tessa learns, seeing our truths is important.

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street is ultimately a book about challenge, independence, friendship and the importance of figuring out who we really are. These seemingly heavy topics are made lighter by wrapping them inside of a spine-tingling ghost story. Kids will love the laughs, chills and moments of sweetness it brings, and hopefully look beyond the book for information on the real Chicago ghost legend itself. When I finished the book, it made me nostalgic to return home myself, and perhaps visit Graceland Cemetery to see the famed statue of one brave girl. But before I make the journey, I’ll be sure to call my friends.

*Review based on ARC copy received from NetGalley.

https://www.netgalley.com/book/112004/review/424591

Also posted on Goodreads and Instagram @KidlitExchange. Book publishing release date 10/10/17.

Goodreads Review Link: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2089732519

Instagram Review @suzieandjack @kidlitexchange

❤️📚Book Review! The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street, by Lindsay Currie, is a middle-grade suspense novel that will give you chills and tickle your funny bone. In it, we meet seventh-grader Tessa and her quirky, artistic & loveable family. When her father's new job with the Chicago Symphony moves them from Florida to Illinois, the novel embarks on a storyline that will be familiar to many readers: the upheaval of Tessa's comfortable routine, leaving behind her best friend, and the tension of starting a new school in an unfamiliar place where she doesn't know anyone. But what makes this story unique is its basis in a real Chicago ghost story in history, and because I grew up near Chicago, I remembered it. This made the experience of reading the novel even more fascinating for me, but the mysterious ways in which Currie drops clues will keep all readers interested. Not long after Tessa and her family have moved into their Chicago home, a greystone that is over a hundred years old, she begins seeing and hearing unusual, creepy things. Her mother's art supplies go inexplicably missing, there are mysterious drawings in her sketchpad, crying sounds in the night, and her brother's ventriloquist dummy doll cries real tears. There is a goosebump chill factor to Currie's writing that recalls R.L. Stine, and in fact there are small references in the book to 90s pop culture that seem to let readers know what the writer herself may have had experience with growing up. As an adult reader, these type of finds within a children's book are delicious. For young readers, I imagine it could lead them to new and interesting things! Beyond the excitement of things that go bump in the night, the strength of this novel is in its characters and their developing friendships. Tessa's new friends – Andrew, Nina & Richie – each have unique personalities that spark off the page. Read my full review on Netgalley or Goodreads! https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2089732519 Thank you to @netgalley and @kidlitexchange for this ARC. Publishing date 10/10/17! #bookreview #middlegrade #mystery #peculiarincident #kidlit #readwithyourkids #tigerkingdom #repost @meetmissmagee

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Stacie Eirich is a writer as well as an avid reader & book reviewer. She holds a Masters Degree in English Studies from Illinois State University. She has published four books of poetry and a children’s novel: Tiger Kingdom & The Book of Destiny. She lives north of New Orleans, and is currently writing her second children’s novel.

Stacie’s Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Stacie-Eirich/e/B01D1QV79W/

https://www.facebook.com/writerstacieeirich

https://www.instagram.com/stacieeirich

https://www.soundcloud.com/stacie-eirich

 

 

Children’s Book Review: The Things That Surprise You

I enjoy reading children’s books as much as my kids do, in fact, sometimes maybe even more. And my favorite ones are those for middle-grade readers, the audience that I also write for.

Why are books aimed at 12 year olds my favorites? Because they are full of character, heart, and challenges as their protagonists navigate new friendships and new adventures, while also discovering themselves. Often these books are laugh-out-loud funny and achingly poignant at the same time, or so creative that I’m honestly amazed at the completely new world that the author has created. And although I do have a real penchant for fantasies of wizards, dragons and enchanted castles – I find that I’m equally drawn to real-world stories.

I recently joined a new group of children’s book reviewers on Instagram called KidLit Exchange, a group which aims to shine a light on the wonderful world of children’s literature, share books and support literacy & authors. My first title to review for the group is set in the real world and bound to find its way onto many middle school library shelves. Read my review below, and look for the book when it officially publishes on August 22, 2017!

The Things That Surprise You, by Jennifer Maschari, is a complex yet highly accessible middle-grade novel about self-discovery, change, and relationships. Its protagonist is sixth-grader Emily, who loves a fantasy-detective book series called The Unicorn Chronicles, eating pizza at The Slice and crafting clothes for Bean, her dog. And Emily has always shared everything she loves with Hazel, her best friend.

As Emily begins middle school, her friendship with Hazel becomes as tough to navigate as the unfamiliar halls. Hazel joins the field hockey team, making a new group of friends who paint their nails, read Teen Scene and talk about boys. At home, things are changing too. Emily’s parents have divorced and her Dad has moved into a new house with Alice. And Emily’s older sister, Mina, who she and Hazel used to do everything with, has entered a treatment facility for eating disorders. With her life shifting like huge tectonic plates of Earth, Emily’s emotions spin inside her as she struggles with the question: Who is the New Em?  She seeks advice from an infomercial self-help guru and attempts to tackle this question on her own, determined to be the Best New Emily she be.

The strength of this story is Emily’s voice & character; readers know from the beginning she is a girl who is creative, smart, kind and quirky. She’s also a sensitive girl who feels things deeply, an inquisitive one who likes mysteries to solve and she’s funny. She is unique but also highly relatable, not only for how she is feeling but for the changes her life and friendships are undergoing. Even if you don’t have first-hand knowledge of divorce or eating disorders in your family (though many do), chances are you know someone who has. And the ups and downs of family dynamics and sometimes topsy-turvy changes of friendships will likely be familiar ground.

The Things that Surprise You is a novel that speaks to the 12 year old that we’ve all been or that we are now. In all the questions we ask in our heads (from what to wear to what to say and do to who should be our friends) – the biggest question is: Who am I? Perhaps once we stop asking questions or striving to be some perfect version of ourselves, we can allow ourselves to be authentic and comfortable with our ever-changing “me.” Ultimately, that, plus the strength of forgiveness & empathy to heal, are the messages this book left me with at its end. And I also really wanted a Peanut Butter Surprise Waffle (*fake whispers* with M&Ms). 🙂

Review Links:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2085313103

#partner @kidlitexchange 💖📚Book Review: The Things That Surprise You, by Jennifer Maschari, is a complex yet highly accessible middle-grade novel about self-discovery, change, and relationships. Its protagonist is sixth-grader Emily, who loves a fantasy-detective book series called The Unicorn Chronicles, eating pizza at The Slice and crafting clothes for Bean, her dog. And Emily has always shared everything she loves with Hazel, her best friend. As Emily begins middle school, her friendship with Hazel becomes as tough to navigate as the unfamiliar halls. Hazel joins the field hockey team, making a new group of friends who paint their nails, read Teen Scene and talk about boys. At home, things are changing too. Emily’s parents have divorced and her Dad has moved into a new house with Alice. And Emily’s older sister, Mina, who she and Hazel used to do everything with, has entered a treatment facility for eating disorders. With her life shifting like huge tectonic plates of Earth, Emily’s emotions spin inside her as she struggles with the question: Who is the New Em? She seeks advice from an infomercial self-help guru and attempts to tackle this question on her own, determined to be the Best New Emily she be. For my full review, visit: http://spacetodream.org/2017/08/12/childrens-book-review-the-things-that-surprise-you/ http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2085313103/ @kidlitexchange #kidlitexchange #goodreads #bookreview #middlegrade #lovebooks #lovetoread #readwithyourkids

A post shared by Stacie Eirich, Author (@stacieeirich) on

Stacie Eirich is a writer as well as an avid reader & book reviewer. She holds a Masters Degree in English Studies from Illinois State University. She has published four books of poetry and a children’s novel: Tiger Kingdom & The Book of Destiny. She lives north of New Orleans, and is currently writing her second children’s novel.

Stacie’s Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Stacie-Eirich/e/B01D1QV79W/

https://www.facebook.com/writerstacieeirich

https://www.instagram.com/suzieandjack

https://www.soundcloud.com/stacie-eirich