Publisher's Hardcover14.44
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Annotation: An African-American middle schooler who has recently lost both his parents sees a ghost wearing old-fashioned clothing in the basement of the New York Public Library.
Catalog Number: #173275
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 307 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-06-269884-2
ISBN 13: 978-0-06-269884-1
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2018034250
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
After losing his parents, Trace Carter is forced to go live with his Aunt Lea in New York. Although she welcomes him with open arms, he is still uneasy about his new life. Making friends and managing crushes on girls is all new to Trace. It doesn't help that Aunt Lea is eclectic and has her own style. One day, Trace believes he sees ghost or spirit, yet he is unable to convince anyone that he's telling the truth. As the story unfolds, Trace, who is the last leaf on his family tree, has to adjust to his new life and the peculiar challenge of being able to see a 150-year-old ghost. Picture-book creator Cummings crafts a well-written debut novel with a likable main character, though readers seeking the excitement of a traditional ghost story won't find it in this quiet tale. However, Trace helps to fill the void in children's literature regarding paranormal fiction with an African American male as the main character.
Horn Book
When Trace, who has terrifying flashbacks to the car accident that killed his parents, researches a school history project at the New York Public Library, the ghost of a tearful little boy fixates on him. The project leads Trace to the horrific 1863 burning of the Colored Orphan Asylum and to connections with his life. This suspenseful and well-paced offering strikes a solid balance between ghost story and school story, past and present.
Kirkus Reviews
In this spirited ghost story, 13-year-old Trace is haunted by more than the memories of the car accident that killed his parents.Theodore Raymond "Trace" Carter, an African-American boy from Baltimore, is still adjusting to life in Brooklyn with his new guardian, his eccentric aunt, when he goes to the New York Public Library and finds himself face to face with the weeping ghost of a little black boy. Though he is a little intrigued, he's more frightened, and Trace tries to block their encounters from his mind until the research for his history-class project thrusts him into a past tragedy at the NYPL to which he is unwittingly bound. In her first novel, picture-book veteran Cummings carefully weaves in subtle clues to help readers through the beautifully paced chapters, leading them to an ending that delights and comforts. Unfortunately, the road to the end is made extremely challenging by Trace's persistent misogyny and his unnecessary speculation about the perceived sexuality of two of his aunt's women friends; a troubling scene in which Trace is allowed to get drunk and miss school lands with no interrogation. These incidents simultaneously developmentally age the book above its recommended audience of 8- to 12-year-olds and present a barrier to deep engagement with the overall narrative arc. His classmates' unquestioned conflations of varied ethnic and racial experiences are further dissonant.A compelling yarn that unravels when it comes to considerate cultural representation. (Paranormal mystery. 12-14)
Publishers Weekly
After a devastating car accident kills Trace-s parents but miraculously spares him from injury, the African-American 13-year-old moves from Baltimore to Brooklyn to live with his idiosyncratic, lively Auntie Lea. Reliving the accident nightly in his dreams, Trace gamely attempts a new life at a New York City public school. While trying to make friends and keep up with his history study group-s research project on the 1860s, he spends time at the main branch of the New York Public Library, the site, he learns, of the Colored Orphan Asylum fire of 1863. Does the fire have anything to do with the small, -disheveled- black boy who seems to be following Trace around? Was Trace possibly -rescued by one ghost to go save another-? In her middle grade debut, Cummings (the Harvey Moon picture books) follows Trace-s progress as he begins to absolve himself from guilt about the accident, learn about his lineage, and understand his family-s position in history. Cummings introduces numerous plot threads and a large, multiethnic cast of characters, at times resulting in a scattered story, but she pulls everything together into a satisfying conclusion, especially for readers who think they might believe in ghosts. Agent: Marietta Zacker, Gallt and Zacker Literary Agency. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 5-8 Theodore "Trace" Carter has moved from Baltimore to Brooklyn to live with his flamboyant Aunt Lea following the death of his parents when their car swerved to avoid hitting a deer and plunged into a river. Haunted by guilt and dreams of the accident which he mysteriously survived, Trace struggles to fit in at his new school until he is chosen to lead a team of fellow students researching the 1860s for a class presentation. But just before his classmates arrive at the New York Public Library to begin their work, Trace finds himself in a private, deserted part of the building where the strange apparition of a little, ragged boy leads him on a search into the history of the Colored Orphan Asylum fire that took place on the library's original site, the Civil Warera draft riots, and the connection between the ghost and his own ancestry. Rich detail fleshes out a cast of multiethnic characters (Trace's friend Presley with her clairvoyance and outrageous vocabulary stands out in particular); the voice is hip, appealing, and humorous; the setting is vividly and authentically presented; and the touch of the supernatural adds texture and intrigue. VERDICT From its dramatic opening to its satisfying conclusion, this is an absorbing, multi-layered novel; an excellent choice for all middle school collections Marie Orlando, formerly at Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Word Count: 58,309
Reading Level: 5.5
Interest Level: 3-6
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.5 / points: 9.0 / quiz: 500654 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.2 / points:14.0 / quiz:Q76801
Lexile: 790L

In a debut novel that's perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Erin Entrada Kelly, award-winning author/illustrator and educator Pat Cummings tells a poignant story about grief, love, and the untold stories that echo across time. 

Trace Carter doesn’t know how to feel at ease in his new life in New York. Even though his artsy Auntie Lea is cool, her brownstone still isn’t his home. Haunted by flashbacks of the accident that killed his parents, the best he can do is try to distract himself from memories of the past.

But the past isn’t done with him. When Trace takes a wrong turn in the New York Public Library, he finds someone else lost in the stacks with him: a crying little boy, wearing old, tattered clothes.

And though at first he can’t quite believe he’s seen a ghost, Trace soon discovers that the boy he saw has ties to Trace’s own history—and that he himself may be the key to setting the dead to rest.  

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