The Spirit of Cattail County
The Spirit of Cattail County
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Annotation: When her mother dies Sparrow is left with only an aunt for a relative, and no human friends, because most of the residents of the small town of Beulah find her "unusual" and think her house near the Everglades is haunted (which it is)--in fact Sparrow's only real friend is the Boy, an unusually solid-seeming ghost who accompanies her everywhere, but never speaks, and who has a secret which Sparrow will need to discover, perhaps with the help of a family of town outcasts and a child fortune-teller.
Catalog Number: #166683
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 275 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-338-16705-7
ISBN 13: 978-1-338-16705-4
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017049089
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
For Sparrow Dalton, life in swampy, small-town Beulah has never been easy. Her mama recently passed away; she never knew her daddy; and sometimes, the town buzzes with rumors "she must be the daughter of the swamp itself." To make matters worse, Sparrow also sees spirits. One of them, the Boy, a cherub-faced trickster, has skulked by her side for as long as she can remember. Sparrow's never told a soul about the Boy, but if she wants to make her mama a spirit like him, she'll require help, and she finds that d more town outcasts Maeve and Johnny Casto, as well as traveling child fortune-teller Elena. But the Boy needs help, too, and the gang soon stumbles into a century's worth of scathing secrets. With gorgeous prose, an eerie historical undercurrent, and a lush, larger-than-life Florida backdrop, Piontek not only delivers a taut exploration of fractured small-town dynamics, but an entrancing, compulsively readable mystery. Sensitive readers with a yen for all things supernatural will hungrily sleuth their way through this atmospheric debut.
Horn Book
After her beloved mother dies, outcast Sparrow lives with her cold aunt and a ghost boy near the Everglades. Grieving Sparrow makes friends with other outsiders, solves the mystery of her ghost friend, and eventually moves forward. Sparrow's growing sense of belonging gives the story heart, while the atmospheric Florida marsh and small-town class prejudices (both historical and present-day) sharpen its setting.
Kirkus Reviews
The difference between wanting and needing can be as slight as the breath off a midnight swamp or as vast as a torrent of floodwater.Piontek weaves a heartbreaking tale of loss infused with the nearly suffocating weight of longing, need, and absence. The death of Mama leaves young Sparrow in the care of tall, thin, and emotionally brittle Auntie Geraldine. Sparrow has never known her father, and in her small Florida town where her home sat pressed against the Everglades, rumor was the dark-haired girl was the spawn of the swamp itself. Long as Mama lived, Sparrow accepted her outsider status. With Mama gone, Sparrow finds herself engulfed in a grief as stifling as summer humidity. Sparrow's only companion is the ghostly Boy who has been part of her life as long as she can remember, until at last she begins to make some living friends. Piontek spins a gothic ghost tale, delivering it in a lyrical narrative that threatens to overwhelm readers as sure as a blanket of Florida summer heat. Sparrow and her friends are white, not unusual in Beulah, Florida, whose social stratifications include unspoken segregation.Even though the ending comes too fast and too tidily after so much soul-stirring grief, the story features some lovely writing, and it's full of characters who linger like apparitions. (Fantasy. 10-14)
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (5/1/18)
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Horn Book (4/1/19)
Kirkus Reviews
Word Count: 54,797
Reading Level: 5.2
Interest Level: 3-6
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.2 / points: 8.0 / quiz: 196509 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.7 / points:14.0 / quiz:Q73307
Lexile: 770L

“Wrapped in prose as mysterious and lovely as a southern breeze lies a story about loss that haunts, and the ghosts that help us heal. This story is a treasure.”—Natalie Lloyd, New York Times bestselling author of A Snicker of Magic

Sparrow doesn't have many friends. Some kids believe her house near the swamp is haunted. Others think there's something "unusual" about her.

But Sparrow's not lonely -- she has a best friend who's always with her. He sits with Sparrow on her porch swing. He makes her smile by playing pranks in church. Yet Sparrow is the only one who can see him . . . because the Boy is a ghost.

So when her mama passes away, Sparrow doesn't give up hope. After all, if the Boy can linger after death, then surely Mama can return as well.  

But the Boy has a secret of his own, one that Sparrow will need to uncover before the ghost will lead her to Mama. To solve the mystery, Sparrow joins forces with some unlikely allies -- Maeve and Johnny, siblings from a family of town outcasts --and Elena, a visiting child fortune-teller.

With its loving depiction of small town life, and characters who feel like old friends, this magical debut  will enchant you, dazzle you. . . and make you feel at home.


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